Thinking about switching to linux

  • mindfullsilence
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I have absolutely NO experience with linux. Never even been around a comp that runs linux. However, an entire operating system complete with GUI for FREE has got me interested in freeBSD. I have a few questions though.

  1. I'm a graphic designer and a web developer and am VERY partial to adobe products, will I be able to run the adobe suit on linux and still have full functionality?
  2. I like my games, I have a lot of them on Steam. Will they work on Linux?
  3. This command line stuff scares me, how often will I need to use it for personal computing needs?
  4. Is freeBSD the right choice? Or are there other suggestions you'd like to offer that are as cost-effective?
  5. The biggest problem right now is that I have xp, only able to use 3.5GB RAM. I don't want to spend THAT MUCH money on Win7 to run 64 bit to have more RAM. Is linux capable of 64bit processing, and therefor more RAM (I have 8GB DDR2 laying around waiting)?
  6. I have a couple pieces of hardware that I'm worried about drivers for. Webcam, wireless adapter, external HDD. Will these work on linux?
  7. My school runs MAC and I have to send in zip files of my schoolwork for my online courses. Can linux create the .zip extension?
  8. In relation to the previous question, is openOffice my only choice for the Office suite? Is it compatible with MS Office?(that's what the school runs)

I really want as much information as possible, if you're up for it please answer these questions as though you were talking to a 2 year old (I'm obviously a noob at linux).
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  • kc0tma
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1. Some people have had success getting adobe stuff to run with a program called WINE (Wine Is Not an Emulator). But remember-you're taking a program designed for windows and attempting to use it in a different operating system so don't be surprised if it runs weird or flaky.

2. Beats me!

3. If you've got a gui and an operating system with a good package manager (not sure about that with BSD) them you will be able to install most stuff graphically and anything else you might want to do can probably be done graphically, so you'll be able to get by without using the command line but it is highly recommended.

4. I've never used and BSD so I can't tell you whether or not that is a good choice. For linux distros though ubuntu is popular, fedora is another one and is supported by red hat, novell supports suse, there literally are hundreds of flavors so our general best advice is to try a few of them and see which you like. The differences between them are mainly just semantics. For instance, you might have one machine with ubuntu and another with red hat, both have the gnome desktop environment, functionality will be pretty much the same for each one. Its whats going on behind the scenes that differs.

5. Linux does support 64 bit processing, just make sure you download the right one (e.g., an amd64 distribution for a 64 bit AMD processor). If you've got 8GB of ram just sitting there doing nothing, then by all means throw it in!

6. As long as your external hardware is common stuff it should work, no guarantees. Getting stuff like that to work is half the fun. I can almost guarantee that the hard drive should work.

7. Yes. I honestly can't remember how to do zip files because I like gzip and bzip2 better but I do know it is possible. And Actually, if they are OS X machines gzip and bzip2 will work on them also so going back and forth shouldn't be a problem.

8. There are other office choices, but open office is the most popular and has pretty good community support. Open office will work with up to MS office 2003 pretty good, some excel macros and special formatting and stuff might be screwy, but I'm not sure about office 2007 with those new fancy schmancy docx files and whatnot.

My own personal recommendation to you is to go out to walmart or somewhere and buy a cheap hard drive to stick in your computer and install linux or bsd, don't format the windows just yet or you might regret it.
  • joebert
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Quote:
I'm a graphic designer and a web developer and am VERY partial to adobe products, will I be able to run the adobe suit on linux and still have full functionality?
I like my games, I have a lot of them on Steam. Will they work on Linux?

You're definitely going to want to keep a Windows computer around for these two things.

Quote:
This command line stuff scares me, how often will I need to use it for personal computing needs?

You can probably get away with not using it very often at all.

Quote:
Is freeBSD the right choice? Or are there other suggestions you'd like to offer that are as cost-effective?

I don't think you'ld like FreeBSD if you're afraid of the command line. Hopefully Daemonguy will catch this thread and have something to say about it, but from what I understand FreeBSD is generally for power users who tend to prefer the commandline over GUI.

I can't really suggest anything, but I can say I'm happy with Ubuntu for my Linux needs. :)

Quote:
The biggest problem right now is that I have xp, only able to use 3.5GB RAM. I don't want to spend THAT MUCH money on Win7 to run 64 bit to have more RAM. Is linux capable of 64bit processing, and therefor more RAM (I have 8GB DDR2 laying around waiting)?

I know there is a 64-bit version of Ubuntu, I had it on this computer before. I ended up wiping 64-bit from this drive and now use the 32-bit version of Ubuntu on this 64-bit machine. 64-bit Linux and Flash player don't play nice.

Ironically, I don't think you would be able to use many of the things that would even utilize all of the available RAM with 64-bit Linux because things that are generally memory intensive like multimedia editing suck on Linux. The extra RAM might come in handy for using WINE to run Windows applications though, assuming the applications you want to run aren't currently broken in WINE. WINE doesn't always work.

Quote:
I have a couple pieces of hardware that I'm worried about drivers for. Webcam, wireless adapter, external HDD. Will these work on linux?

Flip a coin and have your girlfriend pick a number, if it's heads and her number is odd or it's tails and she refuses to pick a number, it might work.
Ubuntu has been pretty good about working with my older hardware, but any time I've bought something new I've had to jump through hoops to get it to work.

Quote:
My school runs MAC and I have to send in zip files of my schoolwork for my online courses. Can linux create the .zip extension?

Yes, you have nothing to worry about here.

Quote:
In relation to the previous question, is openOffice my only choice for the Office suite? Is it compatible with MS Office?(that's what the school runs)

All I can say is I like OpenOffice. It works for me.

--

Don't "switch" to Linux, that would probably be a big mistake in your case. Instead, start using Linux but don't get rid of your windows computer.
I have both Windows and Linux on the same computer, both have their own drive and I like it that way because I can use the BIOS to decide which OS boots and I don't have to fiddle around with boot camps or worry about one OS hijacking the boot sector from the other.
  • mindfullsilence
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joebert wrote:
Quote:
Flip a coin and have your girlfriend pick a number, if it's heads and her number is odd or it's tails and she refuses to pick a number, it might work.

:lol: :lol: This made me laugh.

Thanks for the info guys, hadn't even thought of dual booting. I suppose I could try that. Still a lot of fancy jargon I don't fully understand like WINE, the word "emulator" in relation to OS, and several other things mentioned. Looks like I have a lot of research to do.
  • Daemonguy
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joebert wrote:
Quote:
I'm a graphic designer and a web developer and am VERY partial to adobe products, will I be able to run the adobe suit on linux and still have full functionality?
I like my games, I have a lot of them on Steam. Will they work on Linux?

You're definitely going to want to keep a Windows computer around for these two things.


I agree; keep windows for those things. If you have more than one system, you can use one for *nix and one for windows. If not you can dual-boot like previously suggested or run a VM. You can run a windows VM inside *nix, or vice versa.

joebert wrote:
Quote:
This command line stuff scares me, how often will I need to use it for personal computing needs?

You can probably get away with not using it very often at all.

Quote:
Is freeBSD the right choice? Or are there other suggestions you'd like to offer that are as cost-effective?

I don't think you'ld like FreeBSD if you're afraid of the command line. Hopefully Daemonguy will catch this thread and have something to say about it, but from what I understand FreeBSD is generally for power users who tend to prefer the commandline over GUI.

I can't really suggest anything, but I can say I'm happy with Ubuntu for my Linux needs. :)

Well, while I would love to tout the benefits of FBSD over Linux, FBSD *can* be daunting for the initiate. It also sounds like you need more of a desktop environment, and where FBSD really shines is as a server. You can try PCBSD, which is a packaged, GUI installed version of FBSD with a nice front end (comprised of modified KDE 4.x). What's handy about it, is that it provides you an opportunity to dig as deep as you desire into real Unix without *needing* to. The latest version which makes use of FBSD 8.x is in RC, but very stable thus far for me.
That having been said, you might be more comfortable with some flavor of Linux. The only problem I have with Linux is the disjointed nature of the thousands of threads it has taken. YMMV.

Course, I love the command line control and favor BSD style *nix over System V.

joebert wrote:
Quote:
The biggest problem right now is that I have xp, only able to use 3.5GB RAM. I don't want to spend THAT MUCH money on Win7 to run 64 bit to have more RAM. Is linux capable of 64bit processing, and therefor more RAM (I have 8GB DDR2 laying around waiting)?

I know there is a 64-bit version of Ubuntu, I had it on this computer before. I ended up wiping 64-bit from this drive and now use the 32-bit version of Ubuntu on this 64-bit machine. 64-bit Linux and Flash player don't play nice.

Ironically, I don't think you would be able to use many of the things that would even utilize all of the available RAM with 64-bit Linux because things that are generally memory intensive like multimedia editing suck on Linux. The extra RAM might come in handy for using WINE to run Windows applications though, assuming the applications you want to run aren't currently broken in WINE. WINE doesn't always work.


There's version of 64 bit Linux and FreeBSD, so that's not a problem I have run 64 bit FBSD without problems, but as joebert pointed out, it takes work to make it right. It would help with wine, but processor control is flaky I think. You would be better off with a dual-boot or VMware installation.

Perhaps a win7 install using 64 bit and a vmware install of 64 bit *nix? Don't quote me on this, but you may even be able to run 32 bit *nix within a VM session on a 64 bit host.


joebert wrote:
Quote:
I have a couple pieces of hardware that I'm worried about drivers for. Webcam, wireless adapter, external HDD. Will these work on linux?

Flip a coin and have your girlfriend pick a number, if it's heads and her number is odd or it's tails and she refuses to pick a number, it might work.
Ubuntu has been pretty good about working with my older hardware, but any time I've bought something new I've had to jump through hoops to get it to work.


Everything with *nix takes work to make it right. While it can be a challenge, that is not necessarily a 'bad' thing. The ability to self-optimize is one of the benefits of the operation environment.

joebert wrote:
Quote:
My school runs MAC and I have to send in zip files of my schoolwork for my online courses. Can linux create the .zip extension?

Yes, you have nothing to worry about here.

Quote:
In relation to the previous question, is openOffice my only choice for the Office suite? Is it compatible with MS Office?(that's what the school runs)

All I can say is I like OpenOffice. It works for me.

If you know MAC you essentially know FBSD -- at least over the covers. OSX is really just the mach kernel with darwin packaging wich is a fancy way of saying a small fbsd kernel and the surrounding environment. I understand you can even download the ports tree on a Mac, and install ports native to FBSD on a Mac, though I have never verified this myself.

I too love OO.Org.
joebert wrote:
--

Don't "switch" to Linux, that would probably be a big mistake in your case. Instead, start using Linux but don't get rid of your windows computer.
I have both Windows and Linux on the same computer, both have their own drive and I like it that way because I can use the BIOS to decide which OS boots and I don't have to fiddle around with boot camps or worry about one OS hijacking the boot sector from the other.


I concur. A dead swap will do nothing more than frustrate you and make you feel as though you need ot 'hurry' to get it up to speed. You need time to get involved with the methodologies that *nix's employ. Conceptually, it's vastly different from Windows; 'everything is a filesystem' is a hard thing for people to get their mind's wrapped around.
  • mindfullsilence
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Very very good information here. Thanks a ton guys! I'm still researching it and trying to decide. At this point I don't even know which *nix to use because there are SO MANY! So I guess that's my starting point.
  • kc0tma
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I'd recommend getting a mix of live CDs like from ubuntu and fedora and as many others as you can find. Just boot up with the cd and give it a shot. And make sure to try both gnome and KDE. These are the two most common desktop environments, basically they are the graphical interface and give the operating system its look and feel. My preference here is KDE.
  • joebert
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kc0tma wrote:
I'd recommend getting a mix of live CDs like from ubuntu and fedora and as many others as you can find.


That sounds like an excellent suggestion. :D

I'm don't think I'd want to gauge performance from that, but it would definitely simplify the exploration process. :)
  • John Biles
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KDE and Gnome Desktops run slower on old PC's. You can get versions of Ubuntu with Xfce and Flux desktops which run faster. Experiment with Live CD's first to see what works and what doesn't.
  • a4asit
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for a desktop with such hardware as yours an excellent choice would be Wolvix 2.0 (new!). it's different from other linuxes in certain ways because it has a light interface with xfce desktop that's lightning :jamesbond: fast on even OLDER systems! Unlike many distros it is "very easy" to extend and expand with new software packages. it's a slackware "child" so the entire software repository of "The Great Slackware" on web is open to it readily and for free (not to forget that wolvix itself is free! :) ).
it comes with a wisely chosen "pack" of softwares that range from system to entertainment field. it is HIGHLY customizable and all that comes in a mere CD ISO image (less than 700 mb!). it can be booted from the CD itself or installed to a pendrive or installed to a any HD partition.

How to download:
just go to wolvix..org (omit one of the dots.. i'm not authorized to post direct links :( ). ok now you can see some screenshot thumbnails. scroll down the page a bit to see "Latest News" part. There 2 links (one HTTP and other FTP) are provided to the files repositories. Click the HTTP link and the folder view opens. There click the "ISO" folder and the page opens having 5 files, two of them are iso's (one full beta and the other one a lighter "cub" version). Click the one you prefer and it will be downloaded. If you go back clicking the "Parent directory" link you can download specific software packages from the "wolvix" folder link there. they are in ".tgz" format. to install them just open a command window in the folder where the package file is and run this:
Code: [ Select ]
su -c "installpkg *.tgz"

it might ask for password if you are not running as "root" user. it will install all the tgz packages you have in that folder on you wolvix system. just replace the "*" in the command with the name of the package if you want to install any specific one (instead of all!).

regarding the ISO file you can write it on any CD using such a program as "Universal USB installer" that's available for free download or you can use any other tool like Nero CD/DVD writer (on Windows). Then you boot that CD and when the OS screen opens install the OS image to your HD or a portable medium like pendrive.
Note: Search for "how to install wolvix ISO" on any search engine and you will find links for STEP-BY-STEP installation help. also do look for reviews.

regards
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i'm going to interject a short suggestion for which version to try out. Ubuntu has the wubi installer http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubunt ... -installer which makes the installation process a bit easier. that, along with "easy" nature of Ubuntu would be a good fit for your description of yourself.
  • AdamC
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Ubuntu is one of the easiest Linux distros. It gets freqeuent updates, has a worldwide user base, and it works on a wide variety of hardware. Since you're a graphic designer, check out Ubuntu Studio. That would be best geared for your purposes and it can be further customized to work on older hardware. You don't even have to install it right away; you can even test it as an application within Windows or run it from the Live CD. If you don't want to burn your own copy, you can order one from their website for free.
  • cesaro
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One more thing is the fact that you could not play many Windows-based games on Linux OS
  • AdamC
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cesaro wrote:
One more thing is the fact that you could not play many Windows-based games on Linux OS


Actually, if you use WINE, VirtualBox, or OpenVMS you can play most Windows games. There are some nice games for Linux natively too like Wesnost.
  • cesaro
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AdamC wrote:
cesaro wrote:
One more thing is the fact that you could not play many Windows-based games on Linux OS


Actually, if you use WINE, VirtualBox, or OpenVMS you can play most Windows games. There are some nice games for Linux natively too like Wesnost.


In this case, you are not switching to Linux, but you use both Linux and Windows in parallel.
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You can build a system that will run Linux for $50.

Pick up some old Pentium 4 system. Something like a Dell Optiplex GX620 or 520 that will support DDR2 667mhz RAM is preferred.

A lot of times schools, banks, real estate companies will upgrade their hardware and just throw out the old stuff. You can get it for the price scrap. Then just buy a used hard drive (because usually when institutions get new computers they destroy the hard storage devices completely) and install linux. Some of those e-Scrap computers will need RAM or a graphics card or optical drive. But generally for about $50 you can have a junker that will run Linux.

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