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Old February 16, 2008, 02:19 AM
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Default Memoires of a Linux Convert.

I decided I was going to do an experiment. I was going to see how long I could use Linux (for the first time EVER) before i ran into something i couldn’t figure out on my own (on my own with Google’s help of course)

I want to make it abundantly clear that i've never used any kind of Linux, never SEEN Linux used, I dont KNOW anyone who uses Linux, I'm doing this with practically zero knowlage of how. I have no idea what to expect, other than its going to be different, and I've not asked a single person any question to help me get through this. So if your a windows user who's been Linux curious but you have no knowlage of it, this post will help you to know what to expect if you ever decide to try it out.

I always thought that there were really only 4 things that keep Linux out of the main stream,

1 can’t play DX games natively.

2 not dummy proof. (yeah I can hear all you guys booing me that I should say that it should be, but really. If its going to be mainstream its got to "just work" right out of the box cause we all know just how computer savvy 80 percent of the world's computer users REALLY are... and mainstream means its got to cater to them.)

3 standardization. It sucks for developers to have to write code for every distro around.

Then I heard about Ubuntu. From what I could gather from the information i could find, it was supposed to be pretty user friendly, right out of the box, so i thought heck, I’ll give it a try. I've got a job that leaves me with plenty of time to screw around on my computer so I decided that I’d do it while at work, just to see if i could run all the programs that I need to run a job with on Linux, many of which are proprietary, and to see just how user friendly it can be and post my successes and failures here.

Now to start, I’ll tell you what I’m looking for with this experience. I'm looking for an operating system that I don’t have to think at all to be able to use. That statement goes against the grain for most of the Linux community I’m sure, but that’s EXACTLY what I want. I like to mess around with stuff, sure. But at the same time, i just want it to be easy, simple and dummy proof. I don’t want to think; I just want to point and click. That’s what will make me happy. Now I completely understand that moving over to Linux is going to take allot of relearning and "thinking", but after learning how things are done I want to see nice simple easy daily use.

Its been 4 days since I installed and I think I’m past the "make or break" stage... the hardest parts of the change are over and I think I’m ready to relate my successes and failures up to this point for the benefit of other "Linux curious" folks out there.

Under the hood...

I'm doing this experiment on an HP dv9000. (Laptop) It’s got an Intel c2d @ 1.66 GHz, 2 x 100 GB sata hard drives 4 USB 1 LAN 1 modem a light scribe DVD drive and a geforce go 7600
Its dual booted with xp and vista one on each drive.

Install...

I have the "try before you buy" version of Ubuntu, so I was able to load up from the cd and play around a bit and get a feel for what I was getting into. After about 20 mins of playing around with the pre loaded programs I thought I was ready to do the install which was conveniently placed as the sole icon on the desktop.

After clicking on the install icon and going through a few setup questions i got to the partition hard drive area of the install. This is where I hit my first snag. I already know from past experiences that partitioning hard drives with live installs on them is a bit iffy at the best of times, so I shut down and booted into vista (which had the fewest files that I cared to keep) and moved anything of importance to the other drive... just in case. I booted back to Linux fired up the installer again and tried mightily to get it to resize the vista drive, but I ended up corrupting it anyway... good thing I moved my stuff.

After deleting the partition on the old vista/new Linux drive, things went a whole lot smoother. I made 3 partitions 1 Linux root drive 1 swap drive and one NTSF drive, so I could put vista back on later. With that done I continued on allowing it to install. The install failed. Turns out the disk had an error in it, I found this out because when you boot to the disk there is an option to test the disk for failures. I flipped back to xp re burned the disk, a little slower this time, and It installed without a hitch after that.

First boot...

After the install and reboot i was greeted with a GRUB error 17 message. I was thinking “great way to start a new relationship...” I rebooted again, got the same error. Then i pulled out my all my usb drives, ( I thought to do this because my Vista install wouldnt boot with USB drives plugged in ) , rebooted and low and behold, it made it to the boot loader screen. I still get the error 17 message whenever i forget a disk in the dvd drive, or to unplug a USB stick/external hard drive. Could be some kind of confliction within my hardware since it also does it with Vista (but not xp, go figure).

When I finally booted into my shiny new Linux environment the first thing I really noticed was that pretty much everything worked. Had the internet running, sound, USB... only thing I had to install was the display driver.

Now there’s one HUGE concept that I had to wrap my head around right off the bat. Linux finds drivers FOR YOU. I did have to manually enable the software sources; I found out that I had to do it because it told me I didn’t do it yet when I tried to install the display driver. Fortunately I noticed that option under system/administration/software sources, when I was playing around with it before the install.

This is one fundamental difference that some new folks might get a bit confused over. Ubuntu has software databases that it accesses to download and install programs for you. In the add/remove program it has a huge list of different applications you can install from these databases broken up into sub menus such as "accessories, education, games..." whatever you need is here. I was able to install a good media player, a cd/dvd burner a messenger program similar to trillion and all my other "essential" programs without ever opening my web browser. Pretty much any utility or program you could want is there. And those are just what is on the default databases, you can add more later. But this isn’t to say you cant download programs from the net anyway because you can.

Now that I had all the utilities and driver that i needed (notice i say driver, not driverS) I sat back and thought about what I was going to do next. I felt like i did when I bought my first computer ages ago... "There it is... now what?" It was time to "do" stuff. First thing i did was fire up the web browser. Firefox is default for this distro. I've never used it much to be honest, and when so much is so different i felt I needed some familiarity; the first page I browsed to was the Opera download page. Had a bit of trouble installing the flash plug in as Adobe doesn’t exactly support opera, even though it works in it just fine. A few Google searches later and i had a fix, couple of command line operations copy pasted from a website into the terminal had it installed and working.

Installing the programs I need to do what i do...

This part was the "make or break" part for me. If the programs I use day to day to do what I do won’t install on Linux, then that’s where my Linux story would end. First thing I had to do to begin was find Wine. I've heard of wine before so I knew that I needed it to run .exe files on Linux. Got it downloaded easy as pie from the "add/remove programs" app.

Downloaded tightVNC installed it and viola, no problem worked like a charm. Installed one of the propriety programs I use and didn’t have as good of luck. I noticed that most programs have to download dependency programs in order to function so I decided I would investigate that route to get the program to work. A couple of Google searches brought me to a program called "Wine Doors". I'm still not sure what "exactly" its purpose is, but it allows you to download bits and pieces of windows to make wine more compatible. I downloaded a few things and was able to get the rest of my programs to work. I figured I might as well go ahead and download and install everything from windows that wine doors had to offer, just as a preventative measure for the next time i might have had a problem... bad move. I installed about 15 things all at once, and one of them caused the text in wine, and all its programs to disappear. I uninstalled wine and wine doors, and had to manually delete the wine doors and wine file in my home directory to get it to function properly again. After that i just installed what I needed and that’s it ;)

Games...

While I was searching around for the solution I also came across a site that catalogued all the programs and GAMES that worked with wine, and how well they worked. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how many great games work fine within Wine. There is also cedega to make games compatible but you have to pay to get it and I’m not into that. I did see another program similar to that though called "play on Linux" I’ve downloaded it, but haven’t had a chance to try it out yet. I did try out Il2 combat simulator and it installed and ran perfectly. I did notice on that website i mentioned, that it had a few problems with the flight controllers, but I don’t have one to test it out at the moment.

Things I thought were pretty nifty....

Linux is all about customization, and though Ubuntu is designed to be as uniform as possible it still has allot more customization then your average windows install. Somewhere along the line I installed custom visual effects for my desktop. I downloaded ALOT of programs on here while exploring around and checking stuff out so I’m not sure when I got it, but I2 came across it and I LOVE IT. It allows you to put custom animations into your basic windows functions i.e. closing/opening windows, minimising and expanding windows and allot of other things I haven’t figured out how to work yet. My favourite one though is the "water" effect... push a button and it looks like rain is falling into a puddle on your desktop, or you can turn your mouse curser into a "water bug" so you stir the surface of the "water" while moving your mouse around. That’s all it does, nothing fancy, but its cool and gives me something to do for a few seconds while waiting for something else ;)

Things i don’t like (or haven’t figured out yet) ...

Search... the search files system sucks biggns. either i really don’t know how to do it or it just plain sucks. I've got a 1 TB drive that’s full to the gills and sometimes I don’t remember exactly where some little file is, I know "about" where, but its allot easier to right click on a file and "search" inside to find it. That doesn’t exist on this version I’ve got, or I don’t know how to enable it. Either way I wish it was there.

I've got to do allot of emailing of files transferred from a non networked computer, i put those files on a USB drive
And when I try to attach them the window that comes up to browse to the file wont browse into a windows file system this is craziness I’ve got to move the file onto my desktop or something and then browse to it. This isn’t "such" a big deal until i get to my next beef.

My favourite utility with windows is Daemon Tools. I keep all my install disks, driver disks and anything else I have on disks saved as images on my external drive so I don’t have to cart them around with me to work and risk ruining them. Daemon Tools is simply not supported in Linux at all. Fortunately there are other similar programs that do this but not as well as daemon tools does. And again, when i try to browse to mount the image into the program I can’t browse into a windows file system, so i have to move my image into the Linux file system before i can use it. This is just annoying and un necessary. I really hope there’s a way around this. I'm able to browse from the desktop where ever I like, just not when a program opens a file browser to find a file.

Do I think I could use this full time....?

Absolutely. I've already been using Linux exclusively for 4 days (12h work shifts) and i haven’t missed windows at all. Everything I need to do I’m able to do. Some things were a little bit complicated but in reality remarkably easy, when i had to get wine to run the programs that were native to windows it didn’t take long to get it working and everything came together really well to help me figure it out. There are allot of critical programs that were very very easy to find and install without any real thought on my part, just want I wanted! I actually did have to boot into windows only once, and I found that I wasn’t looking forward to having to do it. I didn’t have to go in because of something I couldn’t do in Linux though, and I found it was like having to drive an old car after spending a week in a new one. I did what i had to do and got back to Linux again and haven’t thought twice about going back in there since.

Most of the games I enjoy are able to run within wine (older games, but great games), so i can still enjoy games without having to go into windows, though I’ll still be keeping my windows install dual booted for the games that aren’t functional ;)

I believe that, not only could i use this full time, but when i get home (in about 8 days) I plan on dual booting my wife's laptop so i don’t have to worry about all the Trojans she's been getting lately. I honestly think that she'll have a better experience with Linux as well. She's into the cutesy stuff, and Linux has allot more than windows does in that dept. Obviously I’m going to have to set it up properly for her as she has no aptitude for computers at all, but I would have to do it all for her anyway weather it be windows or Linux. Linux will be allot easier for her to find programs to suite her than windows, and safer too.

I can honestly say that i'm very pleasantly surprised with my experience with Ubuntu. The operating system is very windows like in function (except search!!) but its also MORE than windows. What i mean is, its really easy to forget that your not using windows, but at the same time, your reminded that its not windows every time you notice a really nice and intuitive feature. For example, I had to burn a dvd. I thought “crap where am i going to get software to burn a dvd?” then i remembered.... “applications/add_remove programs/ then hit the “sound and videos” menu, click on k3b ( i figured it would be a good program because it had 5 stars ;) ) Checkmarked it, hit apply, little bit of downloading pressed install and there ya have it. DONE. I was ready to start burning DVDs. You dont get THAT with windows. And of course while i was waiting for the download and install (which didnt take very long, even with my crappy connection) I turned on the “rain” and watched it make pretty raindrops on my desktop. Those who dont understand what i'm talking about, just take my word that its nifty while killing a little bit of time.

Who would i recomend this to...

All in all I think (from what i've read all over the internet) that my install and cross over from windows went a WHOLE LOT smoother than most people's attempts do, so I wouldnt really recomend transitioning to linux unless you already understand how to find solutions over the net on your own, or have someone close to you that can help you through it. soo...

If your knowlage of windows systems could be described as “above average” and you know how to ask Google questions, I think you could have a good shot of transitioning to Ubuntu all on your own. ( i'm not going to recommend any other distro simply because i have no experience with any other than Ubuntu)

Once everything on the Linux distro is set up, everything else is a breeze. Anyone who can use windows with any kind of success can use Ubuntu. Music, Email Internet, Movies, Chat, Burning disks... its all here and all simple to use. And if you need something else its pretty easy to find. After a short learning curve you'll probably wonder what the fuss is with people saying they cant go to linux, and really... honestly... Linux is more fun.

I'm going to stress that if your motive for transitioning is because your “tired of windows BS” then your going to be VERY dissappointed with Linux. Windows is alot more user friendly and a little more polished, as a whole, while cruising around my desktop and going through directories, I find that my Xp install is alot faster and a has the advantage of the mainstream software market. It sometimes takes a fair amount of time to get a program running properly with Wine, and believe me, your going to be using Wine ALOT (at least untill your more comfortable in your Linux shoes). Most programs your going to miss from Windows has a Linux counter part, though from my experience so far, most of the windows versions are more functional and polished. I guess what i'm saying is... Linux has its own share of BS wich most users overlook simply because A) its free, and B) its not windows. I'm sure i'll get flack from Linux users for saying this but i'm trying to be objective.

Pros.....

1 Its free

2 Its alot of fun

3 Software databases KICK A.. (you know what i mean)

4 Its not Windows

5 Theres alot of support for main stream (aka windows based) programs (even games YAY ;-D )

6 The Linux community is... a community ;) (as opposed to the LACK of any windows “community”)

7 Alot more pro's, i dont have the space for them all. but i should add; you can make it rain on your desktop, among other things. You cant do much with your windows desktop.

8 Status. Nothing says “power user” Quite like saying “I run linux.” Petty i know, but true just the same.

9 Alot safer, windows based trojans virus's and other baddies are probably not supported under Wine, so they likely wont be a problem.

Cons...

1 Still not “quite” user friendly enough. Command lines are all good and well for command line kinda people, but i'd say a great majority of the mainstream users would really rather that they never actually “had” to use it. Sure its great to have if you “need too” but I shouldnt ever “have too”.

2 still alot of bugs in the driver support area. I was fortunate enough to not encounter any real hardware problems, but i saw enough posts from other people to be aware that its actually pretty common.

3 WTF dont you Linux developers ever LOSE stuff? Where is the search function?? I'm sure there is one, Somewhere, I did see the “button” but when i clicked it and searched for “.exe” it only found the .exe files that were in the file i had open, it didnt search inside the files that where in the file... Maby i'm just doing it wrong, but I'm still listing it as a Con because something as important as search should “just work” right out of the box.

4 My Attitude. I add this as a con because I find myself grouching about things i was previously used too, that i have to get un used to. I'm a born and bred Windows user and its going to take some time to re route my thought patterns to think the way that Linux does. This isnt really Linux's fault, or its problem, but as a potential convert its still a Con that i'm going to need to get over.

Conclusion...

I realise that this post has gotten to gargantuan proportions but hey this is a whole operating system, you cant sum it up in short words. And with all i've said, i've only barley scratched the surface of what Linux is all about.

If your a Linux user and you disagree or are offended with what i've written, I want you to step back and remember that i'm a complete Newb when it comes to Linux and I'v only been using it for 4 days. I'm writing this post for the benifit of other newbs, and what i've discussed, and my opinions are going to be relevant to THEM, and will be the kinds of things that they are going to face themselves when they fire up Linux for the first time. My opinions are going to change of course as i become more accustom to Linux.

I think this experiments been a resounding success. The few days that i've alotted to experiencing linux will probably become something of a more permanent nature. Truth be told I LOVE to tinker with things, doesnt matter what, cars, trucks, computers, software, you name it i've tinkered with it. Linux has turned out to be a dream operating system for me ( If you dont like to tinker then you'll not care about what Linux is as a whole, but it doesnt mean its not for you.) I wont be giving up windows completely of course, i dont think anyone that likes games can. If you dont game at all, you'll probably never need to use windows again.

Theres been nothing that i've not liked enough about Ubuntu to cause me to turn my nose to it. Its not windows and i'm going to just have to get used to the idea that things are done differently here. Most of the time the things that are different are really done better anyway.

All in all i'm very pleased. I believe that this experiment with Ubuntu is going to mark a small turning point in my life. It might not seem like a big deal, “oh, so what. so your going to stop using windows and use linux, whats so life changing in that?” but the way i figure it, the feeling is almost like what one might expect when they decide to move to another country. Everythings going to be different from now on, sure some things will be the same, but not quite, and your not going to be able to identify with your old commerads as well as you used to... But then, you could always encourage them to move as well ;)
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vista 64 on these rigs
Q9450 @ 3.5Ghz | E8400 @ 4.2Ghz
8gb Muskin Redline. | 2gb Kingston Hyperx
________________________________|_________________ ______________
EVGA 780i FTW ----\--||___||--/---- EVGA 780i SLI
Antec TP Quatro 1000W \ :==^==: / Antec TP Quatro 850W.
Nvidia 9800 GX2 X 2 SLI \|--o--|/ Nvidia 8800 GTS X 2 SLI
1X 500GB Western Digital. \_____/ 3X 150GB WD RAPTOR RAID-0

Last edited by tzetsin; February 16, 2008 at 02:34 AM.
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Old February 16, 2008, 02:54 AM
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Great write-up!!!

One of the things you forgot to mention is that the Linux SMP folding beta kicks A$$.... :)

Ubuntu also has a 64 bit version that seems to work well, so no more 3.5G limit on memory,
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Old February 16, 2008, 02:55 AM
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Did you have any issues with the wireless or printer drivers?
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Old February 16, 2008, 03:26 AM
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Wireless worked perfect, I hadnt tried printing yet, but i just plugged an old hp3845 and it came up right away with the right names and printed a test page just that fast. it was like it was always installed.
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vista 64 on these rigs
Q9450 @ 3.5Ghz | E8400 @ 4.2Ghz
8gb Muskin Redline. | 2gb Kingston Hyperx
________________________________|_________________ ______________
EVGA 780i FTW ----\--||___||--/---- EVGA 780i SLI
Antec TP Quatro 1000W \ :==^==: / Antec TP Quatro 850W.
Nvidia 9800 GX2 X 2 SLI \|--o--|/ Nvidia 8800 GTS X 2 SLI
1X 500GB Western Digital. \_____/ 3X 150GB WD RAPTOR RAID-0
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Old February 16, 2008, 03:36 AM
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haha dude you put a smile on my face!

I love people who are willing to dive feet first into something like this and walk away happy.

You have to understand with Ubuntu that its been setup to be as user friendly as possible...

those window animations? Check out Compiz cause thats what you have installed :)

Its all about the tweaking and understanding how things work and once you've done that using linux becomes 2nd nature like windows.

Oh and wait till you've used linux a bit and go back to windows and use windows like linux haha you'll start grr'n at yourself.
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Old February 16, 2008, 03:45 AM
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I can honestly say that i have zero use for windows at this very moment lol all the games that i can play well on this laptop are supported under Wine ;) when i get off work though i'll have to use Vista so i can run flight sim. Your right about compiz, are there any other similar things i can install? If i'm going to convert my wife i'm going to have to make it as cute and cool as possible... she has no use for the true beauty of a computer, its all about style to that girl.
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vista 64 on these rigs
Q9450 @ 3.5Ghz | E8400 @ 4.2Ghz
8gb Muskin Redline. | 2gb Kingston Hyperx
________________________________|_________________ ______________
EVGA 780i FTW ----\--||___||--/---- EVGA 780i SLI
Antec TP Quatro 1000W \ :==^==: / Antec TP Quatro 850W.
Nvidia 9800 GX2 X 2 SLI \|--o--|/ Nvidia 8800 GTS X 2 SLI
1X 500GB Western Digital. \_____/ 3X 150GB WD RAPTOR RAID-0
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Old February 16, 2008, 09:40 AM
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I think that its Funny that you qwrote this because I just went though ( and still am going through) the transformation and reading this totally is what happened and is happening to me. and I do agree that there are a few bugs in Linux I finally figured out how to install the ATI drivers onto my P4 3ghz with an older x800 agp graphics card, it took over 11 days and at least 30 reinstalls just so I could get the 3d working and the only reason I spent so much time doing this is because I am really liking the Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon like you say it has allot of programs that are free the problem with this is there are so many programs that you have to research to find out what is what and it takes a little while to get over the exe thing. as for the Daemon tool what is the name of the Tool you use to Mount Iso files I haven't searched for it yet buit was planing to today because I have to Mount a few games that I have.
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Old February 16, 2008, 10:35 AM
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Heh don't need software... linux comes with the ability to MOUNT iso' natively as long as they are .iso format.


mount -o loop -t iso9660 file.iso /mnt/test
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Old February 16, 2008, 07:32 PM
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i was using Gmount-iso, it works sorta but only with iso so your out of luck with any other format, but ultra iso works with wine so if you get ahold of that it'll convert it for you. Theres also AcetoneISO2 (downloaded from their website) but i havn't been able to get the fuse thing to work yet, its the command line thing that wont work. says some file doesnt exist and i dont know what its doing anyway. i found a way around it so i havent bothered to figure it out. you might have more luck with it though.
__________________

vista 64 on these rigs
Q9450 @ 3.5Ghz | E8400 @ 4.2Ghz
8gb Muskin Redline. | 2gb Kingston Hyperx
________________________________|_________________ ______________
EVGA 780i FTW ----\--||___||--/---- EVGA 780i SLI
Antec TP Quatro 1000W \ :==^==: / Antec TP Quatro 850W.
Nvidia 9800 GX2 X 2 SLI \|--o--|/ Nvidia 8800 GTS X 2 SLI
1X 500GB Western Digital. \_____/ 3X 150GB WD RAPTOR RAID-0
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Old February 17, 2008, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enaberif View Post
Heh don't need software... linux comes with the ability to MOUNT iso' natively as long as they are .iso format.


mount -o loop -t iso9660 file.iso /mnt/test
Cool
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