View Full Version : Too good to be free...

October 18th, 2007, 04:58 AM
Hello everyone!

I'm a first time poster, long time lurker, and I'm thinking of taking the plunge and going almost exclusively linux. I've dabbled for some time now, and borked a number of installs because I don't know how it works, but I always would go back to window$. I couldn't help it, I'm a windows master, and I grow to dislike this more and more every day.

I need it for school, where I'm ironically an IT Student, specifically, Windows Networking. I think this is how I have gained this, well, almost loathing for windows. If you've ever taken classes like this you might understand why, but I can't really put it into words, but basically, it's a world class, buggy, quirky, unstable, pain in the ***, that cost too much and does too little. And besides that, I don't trust it, and I don't feel safe with it.

I only keep it for school and games mostly, but this December I'll graduate, and then I take the plunge. My main PC goes 'nix. I'll still have a windows machine, but I would use it as little as possible.

The main hitch is, I'm still relatively noobish on Linux, and I know this, and am looking for ways to change this. This is why I'm here. I've lurked a long time (2+ years), and I've seen this community in action, in addition to the wonderful things I ALWAYS hear about this bunch. I need help in taking the plunge, from people who have done it and from people who haven't. I need all the information I can get. I was wondering if there are any good indexes of information, or support groups, or anything in particular for noobs with little experience but who desperately want to learn all they can as fast as they can. I've tried various tutorials, but A LOT of them I've found are horribly done (confusing, incomplete, badly arranged, no screenies, and so on).

I realize I've probably made this way too long, but I just thought, well, I want people to know I'm committed. I've read these wonderful articles from people who've switched, but can't figure out how. I use a lot of open source software on windows, and am a firm believer in it. And in my dabbling I've seen incredible stuff, that windows just simply is way behind, stuff that just doesn't seem like it should be free, hence the title. What pushed me over was a certain article I read tonight, a blog post at http://www.patchshorts.com/node/6.

And I've rambled long enough, just wanted to know if there are any comprehensive guides or anything to switch from windows, and what I should use to replace windows software. I'm sorry for the long, long first post, but as my first post, I wanted to do a little introduction and background. Please forgive this humble noob.

Thank You and I look forward to any advice I may receive,


October 18th, 2007, 05:12 AM
I haven't completely quit Windows, but I only use it for two things:
1) A handful of graphics-intensive games.
2) Testing web sites with MSIE and Safari

Up until a few days ago, I was also held back by the handful of iTunes videos I once bought, but iTunes 7 now works in Wine.

That said, it's been about a month and a half since I've booted into Windows, and it'd been about that long before the last time.

Really, it just depends on what you need to do. For IT people, I think it makes a lot of sense to keep Windows around, but whether you'll need it on a day-to-day basis is going to be determined by what you need to get done.

October 18th, 2007, 05:17 AM
I still use Windows occasionally for some Games, sometimes for Windows specific software. But, in time I will be a full time Linux user thats for certain

October 18th, 2007, 05:20 AM
I'll keep a box for remoting into work with win xp and any other work stuff. I wont touch vista, But my personal computer and my laptop will be switched. Basicallly only gaming, internet, multimedia (movies, music, and all that good stuff.) Light to medium office work, but then again I already use OpenOffice on windows, email, photo and video editing, and basically everyday use. I'm also planning on buying a box for a home server, and would like to use that with linux, but thats beyond me for now. I just found a tutorial on stumbleupon that may be just what I'm looking for. After posting i went digging again for info and It seems good. Well, that sums up usage.

Thanks for the reply.


October 18th, 2007, 05:40 AM
Hi Jake,

Switching from windows isn't as big a deal as some people make it out to be, but switching completely is perhaps the best way to learn. There are tons of howtos and online stuff talking about what to do when switching, but just jumping in is the best. If you don't want to install just yet, out of fear of the unexpected, then definitely try out one or two livecds. And if you aren't sure you can live without some windows apps, dual-booting with Ubuntu and winxp is normally pretty painless and easy.

Ubuntu is great for a works-out-of-the-box experience, but If you really want to learn you should definitely try out Slackware at least for a little while, it's a very clean and you'll find documentation in almost every directory you can find something in.

Most distros of gnu/linux are a little bit finicky and require some extra configuration, but part of the beauty of it is that you can make it do whatever you want.

So, my suggestion is to just take the plunge, and you may be surprised at what you can learn.

October 18th, 2007, 05:41 AM
Well, obviously gaming is a lot more limited on Linux (and OS X) than it is on Windows, but there are some pretty addictive games available.

You said you already use a lot of FOSS, so I imagine you know that the GIMP has some limitations compared to the most recent editions of Photoshop. Basically, if you're planning on doing professional image editing intended for print, you'll need Photoshop. If you want to touch up photos for Flickr, your web site, or make lolcats pics, GIMP is far more than adequate.

I don't do video editing, but my understanding is that the Linux apps are a little lacking compared to the super-expensive professional software available for Windows and OS X.

Everything else you mentioned, of course, is as good as if not better than it is with Windows.

For the server: yes, wait until you've got a little experience before doing that. I say that not because it's difficult, but because the best thing you can do is to run a headless server. This means getting familiar with the command line. A box running Linux without X will get more performance for the price than anything else. My server is an old, beat up Dell desktop (cutting edge circa 2000) -- and that's overkill. It's never crashed or slowed down, and the only time it was at capacity was when I was compiling Apache from source.

October 18th, 2007, 06:08 AM
Hi. Know where you're coming from with Windows - I had my fill of it at my last job where they used *old* computers with win95 to collect production information and we spent most of our time keeping the things working and the network up. Ah, the memories.

I've just decided to go 100% Linux after dual-booting off and on for about 5 years. I tried a few distributions before that, with the first one being Red Hat 7 I think.

So far it's been easier than I thought it would be. After browsing the programs in the add/remove GUI I'm just amazed at how much is available now. I've even helped get my brother using Ubuntu but he still has to dual boot, at least until he can get his dialup modem configured.

October 18th, 2007, 07:16 AM
WOW! Thanks folks! This is why I chose Ubuntu, you all are nice and helpful. I've tried dual boots with fedora, suse, ubuntu, and kubuntu, and I think kubuntu is for me. I like kde (kinda feels familiar, but more powerful than windows) I guess the main thing i need to learn is command line. I figured out the gui basics of getting my desktop to look how i want, and I can install apps. But repos, and apt-get and a lot of command line stuff is beyond what i know. i might give slackware a try like suggested.

I just do basic photo editing, and use gimpshop alot for that on windows. Video editing is something infrequent and I can do that on my work box if necessary. And best of all, my favorite game is coming out with linux and mac osx clients (EVE Online). I might buy cedega for civilization 4, age of empires 3, Galactic Civilization, and caesar IV, Those are basically the only games i play and some of those not too often.

So for now I've just installed kubuntu and will be trying a tutorial at: http://apcmag.com/6574/replace_windows_with_linux_part_1_installing_and_u pdating_ubuntu
after i get everything updated.

Thanks a bunch!


October 18th, 2007, 07:37 AM
Sounds like you're moving in very well :) KDE / kubuntu does sound more your style.

Multimedia has come a long ways. Considering the licensing / proprietary restrictions imposed, it's incredible. I like VLC for most video playback use, and it also may be of interest if and when you might start dabbling in a multimedia home server or what have you.

For those games listed, you may manage with WINE and perhaps some dlls if needed from your licenced copy of Windows. May want to give it a go for a while before plunking the change down for cedega, especially if you don't game much.

Yeah I was very wary of the command line; I don't seem to pick up loads of technical stuff like I used to. Although I'm a long way from adept or expert, I find myself using it often. Can be invaluable, so yes befriend Konsole.

Most of all, enjoy yourself. It sounds like you've more than enough tedius drudgery and fussing to do in Win Networking. One thing though, Samba better not give you too much trouble eh? :)

October 18th, 2007, 11:02 AM
Hi. Know where you're coming from with Windows - I had my fill of it at my last job where they used *old* computers with win95 to collect production information and we spent most of our time keeping the things working and the network up. Ah, the memories.

so basically your last IT dept (or lackthereof) helped push you to Ubuntu.

October 18th, 2007, 11:22 AM
A few sites that would be worth looking at are:

For the Linux Documentation Project site, I would recommend starting with "Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide". Also, the GNU site has a number of links to free books and their documentation for commands is much easier to read than the man pages. Furthermore, you should check the stickies in the forums for useful information.

One you start getting comfortable using Linux I recommend using the man pages to find/recall information about commands. For example, if you want to look up information about the command "find" you can type "man find" in the terminal to view its man page.

October 18th, 2007, 11:52 AM
just ditch windows completily, you will learn mutch faster if you cannot just switch to windows whenever you get slightily stuck :)

October 18th, 2007, 11:59 AM
I enjoyed using my computer more. It was more fulfilling and because of a stupid wobbly window and graphical effects. A friend of mine who specialized in Psychology of UI (User Interfaces) tried to explain the reasons, but I don't really care.

October 18th, 2007, 12:00 PM
I figured out the gui basics of getting my desktop to look how i want, and I can install apps. But repos, and apt-get and a lot of command line stuff is beyond what i know. i might give slackware a try like suggested.

Forget about Slackware for now. Kubuntu is much more user friendly, and will provide a better platform for you to start learning linux.

Don't worry about all the terminal commands too much at this point. They are generally not essential to get you started, and you'll have plenty of time to learn them as you go along (as most of us do). Good luck!

October 18th, 2007, 12:09 PM
Depends what you want to do.

If you want to just use it for regular daily activity, you should simply be able to figure most things out by yourself with the help of this wonderful forum and a bit of googling.

If you want to learn programming, my suggestion is to learn python and join one of the thousands projects around. Do not be afraid to look into the code of other projects, for non-binary ones it's as easy as "gedit /path/to/file". (Ba)sh also does help a lot to understand what is going on...

If you want to learn about servers, daemons and linux admin tasks, start by setting up your own home network and add services to it. Or even in VM...

If you want to learn how a Linux OS really work, the best route is probably to use Gentoo to do an installation from scratch, Gentoo does have a VERY good documentation that will guide you through step by step. After Gentoo then you should install Debian, possibly starting from a minimal install and then following the guides. Then when you come back to Ubuntu you'll be in a much better position to understand what's under the bonnet.

If you want to be the master of the universe, then start building your own packages and set up your own repository!

October 18th, 2007, 12:21 PM
If you want a schedule:

Install a good VM on top of Ubuntu 7.10 (VirtualBox) + install zsh and ipython
Read an introductory book to linux to familiarize with filesystem, boot process (including init) and package managers (really a quick read, any guide will do, really),
Read a quick guide on Linux commandline, (ba)sh and a python (do a few simple excercises using zsh and ipython).
Every time you run into a new command, spend a minute to read "man commandname". Every time you run into an /etc file, open it up in an editor.
Install Gentoo and Debian (in the VM) the rough way following their documentation (and try to understand what you are doing).
Experiment with anything that attracts your interest (again, VMs are your best friend)!!! All servers/daemons and apps are one click away and free. And if you fancy that you can even look at how they work. Do setup networks, servers and daemons. The How-To forum in Ubuntu is really great for that.
Try to join a project (whether you want to code, package applications, work on security, artwork, giving suggestions, signaling bugs...). As soon as you feel "this should be improved", just do something about it! You will soon be in contact with incredibly talented individuals and will learn about coding practices, procedures and workflows that are state of the art in most cases.

Do not spend to much time reading though, 2 and 3 are only to gain some basic familiarity, so you will be able to better appreciate what follows, you do not need to master all the concepts beforehand, only to have a vague idea of what is going on, best way to learn is to get your hands dirty.

October 18th, 2007, 12:37 PM
When I switched to linux I started with writing a list of things I had to be able to do in linux before I could switch. Learning all the things in the list took a while, but then I moved almost completely. (I still have windows image in vmware, which I dont use much)

Things the list contained.
-play DVD:s
-watch videos
-rip DVD:s to divx or similar
-rip CD:s
-burd CD:s and DVD:s
-mount USB memories
-mount any partitions I want
-surf the net
-download torrents
-play my favourite games

October 18th, 2007, 12:48 PM
I understand what you mean by the windows Networking stuff.

The best way to learn is to go full time with Linux. Dual boot if you must, but that will just be a crutch. If you are a full time Ubuntu user, any problems will be the things that you search for. Most of everything works well on the new Gutsy 64 bit on my laptop, which, BTW, is not a dual boot.

Have a question? Search the forums. Most of the time there is something there to help you. The Ubuntu forums have been my best friend since installing Linux.

If you go to look at some of my old threads, you will find that most of the time I found the answer myself by "lurking" in the forums and getting the answer to my problem here.

You should know that you don't learn as much by reading as by doing.

So....DO IT! Install Ubuntu and don't look back.

Gutsy is surprising at how far we have come in this little distro. I started at 5.04 and have upgraded to every version since and still have 6.06 LTS Server Edition on my home server, and it works as well now as it did when I first installed it.

Good luck, we're all counting on you.


October 18th, 2007, 01:38 PM
I used Gentoo for over a year and it was rather educational. You get to build and maintain your own system and get to see how things work. Documentation is generally excellent and abundant, and the forum isn't bad either. The reason I now use Kubuntu is that I wanted a system that can take care of itself. Gentoo requires some maintenance (like reading a lot of config files - educational but tedious).

I never ditched Windows completely, but I almost never, ever use it. I have all my e-mail, photos, bookmarks, etc in Kubuntu, so using Windows becomes very inconvenient.

In the end, it doesn't matter too much what distro you use, since you can do most things in most distros anyway. I think the most important thing is to make youself at home in the new OS. Change the background, configure the browser, sort your photos, add your contacts to the address book... and you can de-customize your old OS to make it more inconvenient.

October 18th, 2007, 03:22 PM
You guys are fantastic! I updated to gutsy at 3:00am local with a little guide on the ubuntu main page, and I've got my video card working, and found a guide to get my bluetooth working, (laptop, which i use most, Toshiba qosmio g35). I haven't played with my desktop PC yet, but that's tonight...

I see a lot of useful info here and have kind of put together a list of your compiled ideas. I'm definitely gonna use VMs, although I've never used virtualbox, if its similar to VMware Virtual Server I should be able to do it. I'm gonna set my 'Doze box to download debian and gentoo. (Azureus is my favorite bittorrent client ever, and i know i can use it here to so I'm happy.) I'm gonna try to get my kubuntu set up pretty good, and then I've got class at 6pm. But after that a 3 day weekend to immerse myself.

Thanks for all of your wonderful ideas and tips! I know i wouldn't get this kind of help at a MS forum!


October 18th, 2007, 05:03 PM
I feel foolish...

I was tired last night when starting all of this, and now I see my post was unnecessary. I somehow missed the BIG BOLD AREA that said Absolute Beginners Talk. I have just found a TON of useful information.

Also, I apparently thought I was lucky and installed 7.10 early, well I installed the RC, and have been having all sorts of problems. Well, I am now downloading the 7.10 iso for a fresh install, but I'm not worried about lost time, because I hadn't done much, and I learned something, to read carefully when tired. :) Besides, I like to keep hard copies. And I'm going to request a cd through the launchpad shipit program (just something nice about a nice, fresh, pressed cd :) ).

Thank you all, again, and I'll try to look around a little more before asking questions.