Switched to Linux

#1
My Dell OptiPlex started smoking yesterday. sheesh what happened first was XP was complaining about 'System32/config/system, so i booted a secondary hard drive to see what was going on, and it appeared that for some odd reason, the folder was growing. and growing. and growing (the XP drive was still FAT32 and i booted a Win98 HDD to view the folder in question) and growing more. it surpassed 100GB before the computer self-rebooted. i then shut it down and went to bed.

waking up i tried to turn it on. and the hard disk light was on steady and smoke was coming from the case. when i took it apart i found one of the chips on the HDD interface burnt. oh well so much for that machine. i remembered i had a XP-based Crappaq (don't EVER buy a Compaq they suck) Presario 700 that was full of what i thought were mobo problems and the hard disk was giving click of death signs, and wouldn't boot. sad because it was an AMD Duron and was fast and could view internet TV, which i wanted since we got internet at my home. but couldn't view it because my computer wasn't up to snuff and the Dell quit and the Compaq was dead.

Just for the heck of it, i went to mom's and burned a ISO of what is known as 'Puppy Linux' which supposedly works with my hardware out of the box, and runs in 64MB RAM. the Crappaq had 256MB. so i tried the LiveCD since the hard drive was kaput.

It not only booted as fast as a new Vista box, it also found my Belkin Wireless USB wifi card (one thing keeping me from Linux as it never worked with any distro i tried) and i was surfing on SeaMonkey (which looks a LOT like Netscape 4.51 from 10 years ago, but with more support and being old fashioned i loved that) and apparently the other hurdle, Adobe Flash Player, once hell to install into Linux (have to have dependencies, the PROPER kernel version, etc etc) was actually Included! Adobe FLV player 10 at that.

IT only took 90MB so for the heck of it i attempted a hard disk install, and the hard drive is FINE. whatever was clicking it was a problem with XP. so currently everything i ever did in Windows, is on this Linux distro without needing to install everything. it even looks simplistic like Win98.

It's also the most user friendly OS i've used. more so than Vista or 7 (which really is just Vista with a few things taken out, like ME was 2000 with a few things missing)

Everything's driven by 'wizards' and explains everything. so far the only thing closest to a 'crash' i have noticed is SeaMonkey exiting without warning, but that was fixed by going into preferences and turning off some of the Javascript (don't let it resize, meta refresh, etc).

this is the first time i ever could replace Windows with Linux. it's a 90MB ISO. i recommend trying it at least. it runs in a liveCD so if you just want to see what it can do, you don't have to muck up your previous OS. it's a really nice system. pretty much everything's included. it even has a Youtube Downloader.

Also, now that RTV is really angering me with their sports programming and other maladies, i can now rest assurred that when i plan to watch Knight Rider and A-team or Black Sheep, if it's not on RTV, it's online. any episode. any time. no sports.
 
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JER

DTVUSA Member
#2
Congrats on the move to Linux!

I moved all my business machines to Linux a few years ago. Back then I needed 9 machines with various versions of Windows OS and different software loads. It was a nightmare to maintain. After the switch I'm down to 3 desktops; two for the office, and one for running my lab. I also have a tiny Asus netbook for travel. Amazingly I now get more done with less fuss and everything is secured, encrypted and automatically backed up every day!

I've not tried Puppy Linux but I've heard good things about it. I jumped on the Ubuntu bandwagon after some coder friends of mine told me about it in early 2007. I was quite impressed with ease of use and stability. It was a huge improvement from the Linux I had tried in 1994/5 time frame. Those early versions were definitely a hackers only experience. I started using Sun Solaris on Ultrasparcs and had 64-bit OS and hardware in that environment in 97. Those systems were stable and you never had to reboot them. By 07 however I found Ubuntu easier to use and nearly as stable as Solaris 10 but with better hardware and software support.

It still took me a while to figure out how to make the switch completely though. In my case, I had quite a few Windows programs that I couldn't part with right away. My strategy was to convert all my existing Windows physical machines to Virtual Machines so I could get MS off the hardware and load Linux directly on the disks. Then I could run the Windows apps in VMware anytime I needed them without rebooting. I could also back them up easily so I wouldn't get screwed if a new update broke something.Over time I've found Linux native alternatives to most of my software needs but there will always be a need for some Windows programs. 3D CAD is especially problematic. So far though VMware has been sufficient to handle any of my needs with Windows 2000 or XP. I have also found that some apps even run in Wine. Wine has less overhead than VMWare but is more limited on the kinds of programs you can run. Most machines are so fast these day the VMWare overhead is of little consequence though. I can run three or four separate VM's with Windows on my dual quad core machine with no problem!

A couple of key points that helped me make the switch were the fact that USB and SCSI hardware can be connected into the VM without necessarily having a native Linux driver. I do this in my lab with a National Instruments USB-GPIB interface. I also used the SCSI feature to recover some old DAT backup tapes with Windows software running in a VM. Overall, VMWare Workstation is cool software and reliable software and definitely worth the price if you run your business or serious home machines on Linux but still need some Windows programs.

Again, good luck in your transition!
 

Trip

Moderator, , , Webmaster of: Rabbit Ears
Staff member
#3
(Edit: This post is directed at the OP, not at you JER. We posted at the same time! Great story btw!)

Not to argue with you too much, but ME and 2000 were VERY different operating systems. Extremely different. Windows ME was fundamentally DOS-based, like Win95 and 98 before it. It was the natural successors to those lines, and was the last in its line. Windows 2000 was based on Windows NT, which was written from the ground up. It's separate from the DOS-based line.

I've been a Linux user for years, so I'm biased, but I've thought Linux was easier to use for years. People are used to Windows and are trained on Windows, so when something different comes along, no matter how easy it might be, if it's not identical, people feel it's harder. Too bad, really.

I'm actually switching from Kubuntu to Sidux later in the week. Kubuntu doesn't get enough attention from Canonical so it has a lot of problems that I'm just sick of putting up with.

- Trip
 
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#4
Windows ME actually removed DOS support (there is no way to 'shut down the computer to MS-DOS Mode' or boot it via F8) it retained Command line support like 2K/XP. it did this to make it boot up faster. the interface was directly taken from Windows 2K; the icons, start menu, automatic updates, system restore, (which came via an update to add such support to 2000 Pro and Server versions, as they didn't ship with them out of the box)

Windows ME had a lot of what would show later in XP and 2000 but didn't contain the NT architecture. it was basically Windows 98SE with some of 2K/XPs goodies. it wasn't stable however which earned it the moniker "Mistake Edition" and inspired tons of jokes such as the one about Vista being WinME 2.0 or that ME was the true 'Y2K Bug' itself.

After the 100+ system patches, it became usable but too late for MS to support and they had moved to XP since, and most users didn't want to see ME after all the hell that it started, stable or not.
 

JER

DTVUSA Member
#5
From my experience XP and 2000 were ok, but Windows ME was awful. One of my friends switched to a Mac after having a disastrous relationship with Windows ME. Interestingly she let me try out Ubuntu on her old machine after we had extracted all the relevant data from it. The machine was literally frozen with ME but ran like a champ after installing Ubuntu. Had she been willing to try to learn a bit of Linux she probably could have saved herself the cost of the new Macbook!
 
#6
My experiences with MacOS were awful-more awful than my time with Malfeasence Edition. Macs actually do crash, just like any other computer depsite Mac Fanboys saying 'a Mac never crashes'

In fact, the early MacOS has zero memory protection, meaning that unlike Windows, when a program crashes, it takes down the entire system requiring a reboot. it will give even more cryptic messages such as:

"Sorry, A System Error Occurred"
Unimplemented Trap

REBOOT was the only option listed. sometimes, but not much, there'd be a 'ignore' but it would make the system very unstable and you'd more than likely need to reboot anyways. i also had the 'Sad Mac' show about every other forced-restart. the machine was a CRT iMac G3. i heard OS X is BSD-based or some sort of Unix wannabe, but it still crashes with the 'spinning color wheel of death' and/or a Kernel Panic quite often, making it still a tad more unstable than Windows.

I've had Linux crash too in the past, but recently it's not nearly as common. it's evolved to the point that i'm happy with it. before it was a pain to get Wireless support for wifi internet, and then there'd be other parts missing or ones which could be installed but at the time Linux had no native executable installer format and required untarring and other hacks that i was very unfamiliar with. this was in the late 1990s early 2000s. i swore it off then until a later time where i could try it out and have it work. then i had to use NDISWRAPPER to make wireless LAN cards work, only it didn't quite pan out with USB wifi cards. it only worked kinda with PCMCIA cards, and i couldn't get a desktop to use Linux since PC Cards were mainly laptops.

But trying Puppy out now it's quite possibly the best distro for older hardware and makes it seem so peppy and it is stable, and since nowadays i do no more than browse and view online TV or other video it does that quite well. i don't even miss Moyea FLV Downloader since it only worked with Youtube and Puppy Linux includes a Youtube Downloader. Every app i used in Windows has a perfect GPL replacement in this distro.
 

JER

DTVUSA Member
#7
All computers and OS have some problems. You just have to find what you can live with. I'm generally happier with Ubuntu than I was with any flavor of DOS or Windows. I liked Solaris a lot but their hardware support was lacking for X86 machines and they didn't have a good VMware type option at the time I went with Ubuntu. I believe Sun now has Virtual Box on Solaris so there may be reason for people needing a solid OS to reconsider that option. I've never used Mac but most people I know that do seem to like it.

I agree with you that for a long time Linux really was a hacker's toy and nothing upon which you'd want to do serious work. That's changed and its easy to maintain and use too. My wife is a non-computer person and she's had no problem using Ubuntu once it was setup. I know others that have seen similar results.

I try out Puppy in a VM sometime just to see what its about. I opted for Ubuntu simply because I can get it free and if I suddenly decide that I need commercial support for my business I can buy it without doing a reinstall like you'd have to do with the free versions of RedHat or Suse. The great thing about Linux is that there's lots of choices!
 
#8
(Edit: This post is directed at the OP, not at you JER. We posted at the same time! Great story btw!)

Not to argue with you too much, but ME and 2000 were VERY different operating systems. Extremely different. Windows ME was fundamentally DOS-based, like Win95 and 98 before it. It was the natural successors to those lines, and was the last in its line. Windows 2000 was based on Windows NT, which was written from the ground up. It's separate from the DOS-based line.

I've been a Linux user for years, so I'm biased, but I've thought Linux was easier to use for years. People are used to Windows and are trained on Windows, so when something different comes along, no matter how easy it might be, if it's not identical, people feel it's harder. Too bad, really.

I'm actually switching from Kubuntu to Sidux later in the week. Kubuntu doesn't get enough attention from Canonical so it has a lot of problems that I'm just sick of putting up with.

- Trip
Wow - I can find you anywhere
-.-- -.-- --.. -.-- -.-- --.. (repeat)



:bigband:
 
#9
The best part of Linux is that it is free that's always been the biggest benefit i could see.

I'm still impressed with my minimalist distro. it's done more for me and this old Crappaq than i'd had with Windows. for a free OS, it's very stable. i can leave it running and it's still fine when i return. the wizards are VERY friendly, and helpful. it has native drivers which were ready to go from the start. when i, for instance, launched the Internet Wizard, it already had my Belkin wifi support ready to go. no install or driver search required. the X Window system is even more stable and none of the past troubles with video hardware are a problem. the modprobe is automatic and the OS during install routines is very much as friendly and explanatory as the wizards, and gives the best defaults to choose before they're presented. it works superbly.

the default WM is JWM, which aside from its 'linuxy' look, appears to function as well as Windows 98SE. there's not any eye candy (Compiz Fusion is there for those who do want it, along with other WMs) and it's very fast. when i say it boots in a minute, on a 600MHz machine, it seriously boots in a minute.

The only drawback i can see is that for those wanting as secure Linux OS, Puppy doesn't fulfill. it's got a firewall but there's no root password and every user is treated as root and has root privileges. therefore messing it up is very easy for a newbie.

there's a memory usage meter, a hard disk space meter, and the normal 'system tray' which has icons for the volume control, network (the network icon appears to mimic Win98's Dial-up status) and various others if you loaded them.

All i can say is that i'm impressed. and unlike Windows, it doesn't suffer the memory leaks and closing apps gives all the memory back. This Linux is superior in memory management.

It is a LiveCD distro, meaning it is bootable and useable from the CD and without needing a hard drive. it is fast for a LiveCD since it is loaded entirely in RAM, and the CD is automatically ejected upon full boot, making it as useable as an install to a hard disk.

It supports three install modes. 'Frugal' is the recommended, it creates a home directory so settings are saved and files can be downloaded to a regular Windows partition in a folder so if you chose to keep the LiveCD mode settings are not lost upon shutdown.

'Install' is a full linux install, you can install to Fat, NTFS, or the usual and recommended 'ext2' filesystem. it has a partitioner similar to Partition Magic which can resize a existing partition quite well. since my previous XP was dead in this Compaq, i just wiped it and put ext2 in the drive. the OS uses less than Windows 95 and does more out of the box. Included are the basic apps, word processing, media player, youtube downloader, unzip utility, a web browser just perfect for old fashioned types (themeable, SeaMonkey can mimic Netscape 4.51 (Default) or firefox and IE, which means everyone's happy), and Adobe Flash Player 10 is pre-installed as well.

the third option is the ability to make a USB drive or flash card the boot medium so you can use it in place of a hard drive install and have the functions of the full install without touching the hard disk.

it's also a perfect rescue disk.
 
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#10
I've seen a ton of people talk about Linux. I wouldn't mind trying it out if I could install it as a second operating system while keeping my old one but I'm worried that it would slow down my computer even more. Not quite ready to try it out as my only OS. I have a lot of peripherals too, are there drivers for pretty much everything?
 
#11
In the past, it was fine with things like video cards and printers and scanners, but things like Wireless LAN took a long time to fully implement. the Belkin Wireless USB WLAN was the hardest one to get working, and it worked fine from the start on this version.

I'd try Puppy out. it's a 90MB ISO that works as a bootable 'live cd' which means it loads in a RAMDisk. there is no reason to use a hard disk to work with it. that means you can try it out and find out about your hardware support without even touching your hard drive.

My Presario 700 is a 600MHz AMD Duron with 256MB RAM, and this Linux runs faster than WinXP. doesn't use even half the ram of XP either.

If your specs are better than mine, i'd say it booted in a second if it were fully installed. it takes a minute exactly to boot it up, and another couple to bring up the WLAN.

Using it to type this out, it seems that i never lost Windows. it really looks a lot like Windows 98 with some 'new looks' but it feels like Windows. before Linux wasn't nearly as easy to use or easy on the eyes. it's evolved quite a bit.

There's no update nags, and no finicky UAC to bother with. it's very featured yet so simple. it only uses a tad over 100MB on the hard drive, if you used a hard disk install, and feels so light. since i don't use much on my computer locally and usually do more internet video or 'cloud computing' i don't really need a fancy OS. it's also great with netbooks.
 
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