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Hey, lately I've been getting more and more frustrated with windows and have been considering switching to a UNIX based OS but I have no idea what the differences between Linux Ubuntu BSD etc. are and was wondering what the best one is for general everyday usage, and then also how to go about installing and actually using it. I want to switch, and any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


  • Take what arochester suggested. The only way to know what you like or what is proper is to test out several linux distros. Stick with the ones are designed for new users, Ubuntu, Fedora, and Mandriva. Using the liveCDs, figure out how to do things and what's easiest for you.

    Want to know the difference between linux and unix,

    Linux vs Unix
  • Goineasy9
    Goineasy9 Posts: 1,114
    Some folks complain that having so many distros to choose from is a problem with Linux. I feel that it is one of it's strengths. As the previous posters stated, try some live Cd's and see which one you like the best. The best place to go when looking is http://distrowatch.com/index.php?dataspan=4 . Down on the right hand side of the DistroWatch web page is the "Page Hit Rankings" You can click on any of those and it will bring you to the distros link page, and from there you can click on the download site.

    Or, if you like, you can tell us what hardware you're using, and we can make some recommendations for you. Since you're new to Linux, we have some standards recommends depending on what you're going to be running it on.
  • As they say, it's personal preference, what type of hardware you have, what you want to do, etc. I suggest staying with Linux to start (not BSD for now). There are many distributions. Many look the same when installed, their differences are the way they install, software installation after install, hardware detection, software utilities, etc. Ubuntu is basically one of the most popular. The interface is a little different the way it is initially set up, some people don't like it. If you want something a bit, sorta, kinda more Windows like, Kubuntu is good. It is the same as Ubuntu, just set up with a different interface, basically. Linux Mint is a good choice as well.

    This link below goes through a basic installation (for dual boot, keeping Windows you'd need to do it differently), installing software, etc. It gives a basic idea of how things work. If you decide to do a full install, best to say what you want to do, then ask, or research how to do it. It can erase your hard drive if you don't know what you're doing.


    Some of the steps aren't necessary in that guide, the things that are typed in the command line can be done a different way, google earth is easier to install differently, etc., but it is good for a general idea.

    If you go to the various distributions on the left, and look for "perfect desktop" for each, it has a guide for each of them.
  • Goineasy9
    Goineasy9 Posts: 1,114
    Thanks bbbbbb1 (Geez, did I get the number of b's right :D)

    I keep forgetting about How-To-Forge even though I have a few of those how-to's bookmarked myself. I'm glad you also mentioned about dual booting. I have 3 laptops that I dual boot with Windows 7 myself. Setting up the dual boot is still a nail biter for me, even though the major distros seem to do it automatically. If the OP is interested in dual booting (With my newer installs I usually choose to keep Windows on a small partition even though I never use it, although the wife seems to need it to print out coupons occasionally), there's another choice when dual booting, which is using a bootmanager like EasyBCD. If you intend to keep Windows and want to do things like upgrade from Vista to 7, EasyBCD make the upgrades a whole lot easier. Windows doesn't play well with Grub and /boot partitions. EasyBCD is approved by MS for dual booting, such as, XP with Vista, but EasyBCD also recognizes legacy Grub and Grub2, so, it's one of my must haves when dual booting.
  • bbbbbb1
    bbbbbb1 Posts: 7
    edited November 2011
    Partitioning is still one of the major hurdles, I understand why it needs done, but it can cause some of the most chaos. I find it's easier to go into Windows, have it resize some free space, then when installing Linux, set up what you need in the new free space. You can create/resize it with the Linux install media, but the other way seems a bit safer. WUBI is the safest way to install, although not as good as a "real" install, next to a Virtual Machine, my opinion.

    It would be nice if Windows would "play nice" with Linux (that won't happen). Maybe a real installer, taking care of everything, safely, from within Windows.

    I don't use Windows at all myself for my use, just to offer advice, and be able to see what's where in menus, etc. So it does get installed. The coupon printers are something that I have considered as well, not yet enough to do it though. Also, there is a tool Directv has to stream recorded DVR content over the home network to the PC. It works great, only in Windows (I've tried in Linux, it runs, but doesn't work, doubt it will with the encryption), but I don't get much time for TV.

    OP, it would be best to try a few of the major distros as stated, I do suggest perhaps, Kubuntu, Mint, Ubuntu, I guess even in that order, to start with. They have excellent tools for hardware setup, and proprietary drivers if needed (-some- of the others don't). You have basically no risk to try them out with live media if you don't install. If your computer can boot from a flash drive, you can use http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/ to easily download the latest versions and setup a bootable flash drive.

    edit: Look at Distrowatch to see the latest releases before you get them. I suggest not getting anything that says daily, development, beta, alpa, etc. They are in testing, not yet released. Sometimes they are ok, but usually buggy.
  • Thank you all so much, I have tested Mint Kubuntu and Ubuntu and have decided to go with Ubuntu and keep Win7 to dual boot. linuxnewbieguide was extraordinarily helpful with installing and learning the basics and I am grateful for all your help.
  • Hello I'm new to linux and I want to try it. I downloaded Ubuntu 32 bit on CD and tried to install it on my old laptop. However, after the installation, it took me to a dos command prompt. Where I have to type where I want to go. I don't know the command to use. I thought I would be using my mouse to explore. One thing I noticed during the installation process was that there was a network auto configuration failure. it says, "Network probably not using the DHCP protocol. Alternatively, the DHCP server may be slow or some network hardware is not working."
    Please advise...
  • Goineasy9
    Goineasy9 Posts: 1,114
    What kind of hardware is in that old laptop. When an installation drops down to a bsh prompt it usually means it didn't install properly.
  • I have an hp pavilion zv5000
    40 GB hard drive with windows XP
    system board ID: 089C
    processor: Intel (R) Celeron (R)
    Speed: 2.8 GHz
    memory: 384 MB

  • @sidlopez

    When you installed Ubuntu, did you click try ubuntu, or did you click on install before getting to a usable desktop?

    That amount of ram may be a problem for running full Ubuntu. Try this instead (or upgrade ram...). When you boot off of the cd, use the "Try" option instead of "install" (if Lubuntu has that option), see if you can get to a usable desktop before you install.

    If that doesn't work, we may need to find a different distribution based on something else.
  • In order to install ubuntu, you need to be connected to the internet for it to download all the extra packages. All it did was install the core utilities. Plus, if you are trying to install the latest version of ubuntu, 11.04 or 11.10, you need more ram. For any version or ubuntu after 9.10, you need at least a minimum of 1GB of system ram.

    Do us a favor, download, puppy linux, burn to CD and run it on your laptop in live mode which means running the OS in ram rather then an installation. When booted, open a terminal and run this command:

    #sudo lspci -v

    Tell us your video controller information that it displays. Look at the "prefetchable" memory and tell us how big it is. If your video controller is using less then 256mb of video memory, us ubuntu 9.10 or 10.04 and increase your swap space.

    Let us know what you did.
  • Puppy would be my choice for best ~small distro. It's run on just about everything I've tried, and includes pretty much all the basics out of the box. I checked on Lubuntu before I posted, it said 128mb minimum system ram (bare minimum, of course). Didn't see video card requirements, but I thought it should be low. I figured if it didn't work, then a modern 'buntu derivative would not work on that laptop (without some work at least), then we'd be best to switch bases, and look for something optimized for older hardware.

    I just installed Kubuntu 11.10 about a week ago on my main desktop, following a drive failure (I usually install a remaster of what I have, but I have done that the last few releases, thought I'd do a "clean" one this time, start with a new base). It does not require an internet connection to get a full install, minus the additional drivers/plugins/updates. Graphics should be included on disk, so it ~should get to a usable desktop, unless something is now incompatible. I unplug the internet usually when installing because I am on a limited bandwidth satellite connection, and the installs usually never say how much they are downloading, so I can't budget my usage, plus it's slow and adds a great deal of time to the install. If I do an apt-get update to refresh, with just all the base repositories plus about two others or so, it takes over five minutes for example, just for that. I like to do the updates and what not post install, so I can see what's going on.
  • @bbbbb1

    You are right, the latest version of buntu can be installed without an internet connection. Updating will give you the latest packages and others that my be required by your system.


    As I understand, all ethernet devices are compatible with linux. I would use the latest kernels to be on the save side since it has the latest drivers included in the iso images. For specification, use linksys ethernet devices if you can. Most older devices are compatible. Wireless devices are the trickiest. For your best approach, run a liveCD of lubuntu, and test your web connection. If you do not get a connection, open a terminal and run, sudo lspci -v. Look for your ethernet card. If detected, google the model description to find compatibility with linux. If found, you will find the driver used for it. We will give you the steps needed to install the driver. That is for hardware problems.

    Your posted stated a DHCP issue. Is your DHCP working? Do not setup a static IP address as this is more than likely not in your DHCP's IP range. Also how many network devices do you have? Please give us this information as to better to assist you.


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