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Switching From Distros to Distros Willy Nilly? Is That Possible?

Hi,

I'm a potential Linux user from Windows. Been using Windows all my life. I read that it's best to start with Zorin OS? Let me get to my point...

Since I don't know which "distros" to use, people say to try a few of them. How is that possible?

Lets say I download Zorin OS and try it out... at this time, I've already downloaded my favorite apps like Minecraft, open office, and saved a few photos. Now I want to try Debian OS, can I just uninstall Zorin OS to install Debian OS, and all my stuff will remain? My Minecraft, Open Office, and photos will still be there unchanged?

Please let me know, this Linux stuff is really confusing, but I'm hating WIndows, my laptop is dying, I need a new one ASAP. Please help!

Comments

  • arochesterarochester Posts: 266

    You can TRY Linux without affecting Windows. You do not need to make a whole installation.

    1) Live CD/DVD (Look at https://livecdlist.com/ )
    2) Live USB with persistence
    3) Puppy Linux (it saves to Windows)
    4) Virtualization
    5) Dual Booting

    ...There is even a website where you can try Linux online >>> https://distrotest.net/

    and all my stuff will remain?

    No. There are ways to do that but they can be complicated.

  • gunixgunix Posts: 8

    My personal opinion is that virtual machines are a good place to start. You can create virtual machines using VirtualBox on Windows.

    I would not give you advice on which distro to try out before knowing what your end goal is. Do you want to test Linux out for fun? Do you plan to have a career in development or system administration and need some Linux skills? Do you want to transition to open source software? Depending on your goal, I might suggest one thing or another. :wink:

  • OMG my response was deleted :(

  • @gunix said:
    My personal opinion is that virtual machines are a good place to start. You can create virtual machines using VirtualBox on Windows.

    I would not give you advice on which distro to try out before knowing what your end goal is. Do you want to test Linux out for fun? Do you plan to have a career in development or system administration and need some Linux skills? Do you want to transition to open source software? Depending on your goal, I might suggest one thing or another. :wink:

    My response:
    (Hope this doesn't get deleted)
    I have no idea what a virtual machine is. Lets pretend you're talking to a retard, which is not too far from the truth.

    I want my Linux to mimic Windows 95/2000/7. I need to be able to have complete control of my computer, and the ability to access any and all folders. I want to change settings, and short cut commands (like how windows have Ctrl/Alt/delete for the task manager, I want to be able to change it if I want). So basically I want a Windows 95/2000/7 machine.

  • @arochester said:
    You can TRY Linux without affecting Windows. You do not need to make a whole installation.

    1) Live CD/DVD (Look at https://livecdlist.com/ )
    2) Live USB with persistence
    3) Puppy Linux (it saves to Windows)
    4) Virtualization
    5) Dual Booting

    There is even a website where you can try Linux online >>> https://distrotest.net/

    and all my stuff will remain?
    No. There are ways to do that but they can be complicated.

    My response:
    Are you saying that I can stream an OS if I use a USB? This is confusing... I'm sorry I don't get it :(

  • gunixgunix Posts: 8

    @ravenclawstudent said:
    My response:
    (Hope this doesn't get deleted)
    I have no idea what a virtual machine is. Lets pretend you're talking to a retard, which is not too far from the truth.

    I want my Linux to mimic Windows 95/2000/7. I need to be able to have complete control of my computer, and the ability to access any and all folders. I want to change settings, and short cut commands (like how windows have Ctrl/Alt/delete for the task manager, I want to be able to change it if I want). So basically I want a Windows 95/2000/7 machine.

    I am sorry, but there is no Linux as bad as Windows 95/2000/7. :D

    I will do my best to explain here what a VM is, but a youtube video will help a lot more: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=what+is+a+virtual+machine

    Consider your laptop, or your desktop a PHYSICAL machine. It has all the physical elements: monitor, mouse, keyboard, processor, memory, storage and so on. Your physical machine has the capacity to run ONLY ONE operating system, no matter if it is Windows, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mac or other stuff ... HOWEVER, there are programs that allow you to create a VIRTUAL machine on your system. A virtual machine will simulate within software all the hardware elements required to run an operating system. This means, a virtual machine will have virtual CPU, virtual memory, virtual storage, virtual monitor, virtual keyboard and virtual mouse. There is software that allows you to do this, like VirtualBox.

    No, regarding the use case you mentioned: Considering you just want some basic functionality, and I supposed you want to run it on an old system, I suggest you to try a lightweight distribution like Lubuntu. It can run on systems that don't have good hardware.

    If you try it out and have any issues, let me know and I will try to help you how I can.

  • @gunix

    So, on my machine (a.k.a. my laptop) I am only allowed to have 1 OS on it? If I'm interested in a Linux, I have to remove the Windows OS?

    Some people talked about dual OS on their machine. Like, in my university, there are Mac computers that give you the option upon start up to run either Windows or Mac. You click on the one you want, and it runs the OS. Is that possible for Linux? (Although, that's not what I want, at least I don't think it is.)

    From the link you gave me, and after looking at videos, it seems to compare servers vs virtual machines a lot. Like I said before, I'm a little computer-retarded, and I'm not interested in servers (I don't even know what that is) therefore I may not be interested in virtual machines... I'm interested in "desktop" only, (at least, for right now). I know there are different distros based on what you want, and the common options are Linux for servers vs Linux for desktops. I believe it's the desktop Linux's that I'm looking for...

    Btw, thanks for responding to my questions. You're very helpful. And I don't know what you're talking about, windows 95/2000/7 was the best!

  • gunixgunix Posts: 8

    @ravenclawstudent said:
    @gunix

    So, on my machine (a.k.a. my laptop) I am only allowed to have 1 OS on it? If I'm interested in a Linux, I have to remove the Windows OS?

    Some people talked about dual OS on their machine. Like, in my university, there are Mac computers that give you the option upon start up to run either Windows or Mac. You click on the one you want, and it runs the OS. Is that possible for Linux? (Although, that's not what I want, at least I don't think it is.)

    From the link you gave me, and after looking at videos, it seems to compare servers vs virtual machines a lot. Like I said before, I'm a little computer-retarded, and I'm not interested in servers (I don't even know what that is) therefore I may not be interested in virtual machines... I'm interested in "desktop" only, (at least, for right now). I know there are different distros based on what you want, and the common options are Linux for servers vs Linux for desktops. I believe it's the desktop Linux's that I'm looking for...

    Btw, thanks for responding to my questions. You're very helpful. And I don't know what you're talking about, windows 95/2000/7 was the best!

    Hey @ravenclawstudent ,

    Indeed, you can "dual boot", meaning you install "bare metal" multiple operating systems. In your case, you would dual boot Windows and a Linux-Based OS. Even if this can be done, considering you are "computer-retarded", I would not suggest it, since you could wipe all your data by mistake. If you really want to get this done, get somebody with proper computer skills to do it for you, so that you don't lose any data. Of course, if you don't have any sensitive information on your system, you can try it out on your own, but expect to make a mistake at the first try (meaning you might end up with a non-functioning laptop).

    The reason people suggest virtual machines for the first tests is because they are a bit more user-friendly and some mistakes don't cause any loss of data.

    I give totally different advice to people who are studying computer science, though. People who study programming should install Linux-based OS bare-metal and work only on Linux for a few months. This forces you to solve any problem using Linux and learn. By doing this, you build your Linux skills and get a big + to your CV.

    So again, depends on goals.

  • @gunix
    Lol! I appreciate it. This makes much sense to me now.

    Just going back. I had asked about switching from one distros to another (i.e. from Zorin to Debian, lets say). Is that ok to do without accidentally deleting my files or accidentally factory reset my computer? You mentioned using the Virtual machine since that's the best method, but now that we understand I'm lacking in much skill, I'll dismiss that idea (since a "virtual machine" still confuses me). So bottom line, without the use of a virtual machine, can I switch out my Zorin for Debian without deleting my files or accidentally factory resetting my computer?

    Yes, there's someone who I work with that has installed Ubuntu on his laptop. I'm going to him next week to help me with installing Zorin. I definitely will need help! I don't think that I can do that on my own.

  • gunixgunix Posts: 8

    @ravenclawstudent said:
    @gunix
    Lol! I appreciate it. This makes much sense to me now.

    Just going back. I had asked about switching from one distros to another (i.e. from Zorin to Debian, lets say). Is that ok to do without accidentally deleting my files or accidentally factory reset my computer? You mentioned using the Virtual machine since that's the best method, but now that we understand I'm lacking in much skill, I'll dismiss that idea (since a "virtual machine" still confuses me). So bottom line, without the use of a virtual machine, can I switch out my Zorin for Debian without deleting my files or accidentally factory resetting my computer?

    Yes, there's someone who I work with that has installed Ubuntu on his laptop. I'm going to him next week to help me with installing Zorin. I definitely will need help! I don't think that I can do that on my own.

    The best thing is to do a clean install when changing the distribution. If you want to keep some files, best copy them to a USB and after the install copy them to the new system. Though this is an "easy" solution, my personal opinion is that your should use cloud services (like Google Drive, DropBox and similar services) to keep your important data, so that you don't lose it by mistake. If you don't want these cloud services to be able to see your data, you can always encrypt it before uploading. But this is another topic.

    Distributions allow you to do major version upgrades (so from an older version of Debian to a newer one), but even this process can fail from time to time. Changing the distribution means in most cases changing almost everything on the system.

    I ended up doing a lot of installs recently since I switched form ArchLinux to Fedora 28, than to Fedora Rawhide, than to Gentoo and after that back to ArchLinux, so I know this can be painful sometimes (though for me there is nothing more painful than using Windows). However, in my case, the only files i need to keep safe and transition are my private keys, since everything else I keep encrypted somewhere in the cloud, using those private keys :smiley:

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