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[Ubuntu Linux] is a Debian-based distribution focusing on ease of installation and timely releases, amongst other things. The installer is supposed to be fully automated. Anyone tried this yet? I'd be curious to see how it performs.. - MoonShadow

For the completely lost Edith recommends [this document] for those new to Linux.

Pros of switching to Linux

I would dispute this. In 99% of situations, modern Windows systems offer more than sufficient stability.


This is changing. [XPDE] is specifically aimed at people wishing to migrate from Windows; Gnome and KDE are developing to the point of being arguably as intuitive as Windows, albeit people used to Windows tend to forget just how much they've learned to get to where they are. - MoonShadow
In the process though, Gnome and KDE are losing lots of the useful things that made them nice for more experienced users. -- Senji

Is that really true? I'd say that once someone installs the software you need for you, you can use KDE for whatever you use Windows for while having a comparable or smaller base of knowledge to that which you had to acquire in order to use Windows for whatever it is you use it for. - MoonShadow
Installing new software. Dealing with conflicts caused by new software.
...involves knowledge under Windows too.
Adding new hardware.
...also involves knowledge under Windows.
Security updates.
...involve copying and pasting a command line from the BugTraq post into your shell prompt.
All these things need someone who knows what is going on: someone who can decypher the dependancy information produced by apt or deselect or whatever, who know how to apply security patches (those from Microsoft may be slow and insufficient, but installing them is at least just a matter of clicking an icon). Administering a Linux system is not a task from the faint of heart, and all Linux systems need administered.
I suspect your Linux experience is somewhat out of date.
Agreed.  The interface still has needless complexity though; why "apt-get update && apt-get upgrade" (or "apt-get update" then "apt-get upgrade") instead of just "apt-get update upgrade", hmm?
From 'this weekend' level of experience, why not just work damn you you piece of crap, work!.  Linux is unusable.  Period.  Everything appears to rely on everything else, and I can't even install a apt-get because that needs a newer verison of rpm which needs a newer verison of glibc which was the reason for me going around this loop in the firts place.  It's driving me crazy.  And my redhat9 cd won't boot....  --Vitenka
Why on earth are you trying to install apt under Red Hat?  It's a Debian program.  If you're about to tell me that I have to install yet another different linux (it took me long enough to find ONE that would work) just to install an installer program, then I may just expode.  --Vitenka
Because rpm is unutterably horrible and is driving me crazy?
So you chose Red Hat because...?
Because, of the five linux distributions I downloaded, it was the only one to succesfully install and boot, detect both my network cards and not hang immediately after calibrating the delay loop.  --Vitenka
The rather large number of people actually using Linux will be rather surprised to hear that it's unusable.
Yes, I apologise.  Linux is uninstallable.  Once installed, it is perfectly usable if you accept either limited functionality or the need for programming skills.  --Vitenka
I'm just imagining all the succesful installations and non-programmers happily using it, then.  Please stop being silly.  Rjk
Those people are lucky bastards, and on the basis of evidence available to me, nonexistant.  --Vitenka (I'm serious.  What does it take to get linux to work?  I've tried it under all four major phases of the moon, to no avail - I must be missing something.)
Come visit Cambridge with your box - we can have a [ToothyWikiMeet] /  Debian installfest ;) - MoonShadow, semi-serious. Not such a bad idea, actually. We could hold one on a Saturday afternoon in a few weeks' time, maybe.
Would love to - if it didn't mean trying to haul a minitower on the UnderGround?.  --Vitenka
(PeterTaylor) Wimp. I bought a tower in Tottenham Court Road and lugged it back to Enfield via underground and BritishRail?.
I don't have much sanity, but I'm proud of the little that I have.  --Vitenka
My Linux knowledge is probably well out of date, but from a Windows point of view on the above, installing new software actually consists of clicking the next button a few times or selecting an installation path (I can't remember having a conflict in software), adding new hardware (90% of the time) consists of plugging it in and thats it (otherwise it is a single program install), security updates consist of going to (www.windowsupdate.com) and clicking next a few times.  Is Linux really that simple now? *admittedly sceptical* - Kazuhiko
To install new software, just open up your distribution's graphical package manager, scroll down to the software title you want, select it and click the install button. It does everything else for you, including finding a server to download the software from and downloading everything the software depends on (given the number of people who still haven't learned to use Google, this strikes me as needing less work than Windows, not more). Adding new hardware consists of just plugging it in and rebooting (you don't have to reboot if you know the right incantation, but if you don't know the incantation Linux will autodetect your hardware on reboot). The package manager can be set to download and install security and other updates automatically, with or without asking you first.
I dispute that package managers ever work right.  --Vitenka
I've yet to see RPM work right. I've yet to see apt/dpkg go wrong. If you want a specific example, the webserver you are posting this on was set up using apt and has needed no maintenance since except for security updates (which are roughly weekly, triggered by a single command and have yet to break something). - MoonShadow
Humm. Ok, I'll trust that intformation.  Now, given that I'm currently on redhat (and it's the only distro I found that was happy with all my hardware) how do I apt?  I'm starting to wonder how soon my system will be insecure...  --Vitenka
Uh - AFAIK, you're stuffed :( apt/dpkg relies on extensive knowledge of the system state - it keeps track of far more info than RPM does - and that means that while perversions do exist to enable you to start using it in an RPM distribution you can't expect it to reliably detect dependencies, incompatibilities and so on, which as far as I'm concerned is the entire point of having a package manager in the first place. You need to start out using it :( Although I'm sure that one of the Debian crew that read this have rather more info than I do.. - MoonShadow
Please, please, tell me that's a spoof site.. - SunKitten o.O;;
Most commenters on the blog don't realise it, but yes, it is. I wasn't sure for quite some time (especially given Shelley's in-character refutals of some of the comments). But posts like [this one] make it a bit more obvious (and are rather entertaining also). --AC

 * (add more here..)


Pros of a Halfway house (Cygwin)

MoonShadow: FSVO unix stuff, anyway..


MoonShadow: Nothing to stop you compiling your own against the Cygwin libraries.
MoonShadow: What control do you need that you don't have?

Pros of a Halfway house (second computer running Linux)


Although, if you use samba, this isn't really visible. 
Redefine 'stuff' to include the applications needed to actually do anything with your stuff.  --Vitenka (Heh.  MicroSoft? ActiveStuff?)

Other possibilities

Boot from CD distributions, like [knoppix] - makes the installation problem go away, generally autodetects all your hardware. --pjc50
Oooh!  A new wikizen!  Hello.  I found Knoppix failed to even boot on my system.  --Vitenka
Dual Boot - all the pros of a second linux computer, only con is not being able to run both at once (unless, like myself, one manages to mysteriously break xp-pro from the linux boot) - Koryne

Ok - I have just gotten win98 nuked.  It lasted a good many years, but finally got unstable enough to be unrepairable without the normal 'delete it and restart' process.  I am, right now, in the middle of downloading all the updates and generally installing drivers.

I considered linux, but, frankly, I have no use for it.  It won't recognise many of my bits of hardware (the pci adsl modem being kinda critical) and I have had several very bad experiences getting it installed in the past.  (Yes that IS an ethernet card, yes I DO use dhcp.. oh for crying out..)  Anyway.  My understanding is that linux can now do everything I want it to.  I can play halflife under winex and play videos and browse the web.  But it can't do anything extra any more.  I can't find a distro that fits on a ten meg harddrive any more, I can't see a single USE for linux - and it would cost me a lot of effort to learn what its various errors mean.

Distro that fits on a ten meg hard drive: precisely what do you want to be able to do with it? You can't get a Windows distro that fits that any more either ^^; MoonShadow has seen distributions that fit on a floppy and include X and a C compiler ^^; The toothycat.net mailserver clocks in at 80Mb, but this is due to MoonShadow's lazyness - there's around 30Mb of stuff there that will never get used.

I don't want X.  At all.  Ever.  I'd need apache, mail server and NAT firewall.  I know that floppy image things exist - but none of them seem to want anything to do with my hardware (and a firewall that can't detect its modem and ethernet card is a bit pointless)  What's truly annoying is that I have a mostly working linux that is ages old, on a failing hard drive.  Oh, it must be able to play nethack too :)  --Vitenka
Oh, just to add - the 'fit on a ten meg harddrive' was the 'something windows cannot do' bit.  Linux can't do anything to replace my main desktop machine, simply because it cannot do anything extra.  --Vitenka

Now, that's something MoonShadow agrees with ^-^

Actually, you can fit Windows in about 15Mb, but it requires lots of deep wizardry, or paying someone to do it for you.  I used to have a URL bookmarked at work for a company who sold it, but I don't any more.

Well... what version of Windows? A working (FSVO working) 3.11 can be crammed onto a floppy ^^; I have such a beast lying around, in fact. - MoonShadow

It's really annoying.  There's all sorts of ethical reasons why I *should* switch; but it is hard, I'd lose functionality and gain nothing besides the ability to play with the source code.  Which isn't something I massively want to do.

I'd love to switch.  But I have a copy of '98 and I simply don't see a reason or even a real possibility.

Anyone willing to help?  If I can switch without too much effort and without any loss of function, I'd love to have 100% uptime for apache.

But this seems to be open-sources biggest flaw.  It compiles for windows too :)  --Vitenka

And often doesn't work as well :-).  I don't care if you're running my application on something else.  Unlike Linus I'm not out to rule the world, I just happen to want the software I use to work right.  It would be nice if the software everone else used worked right too, but that's their decision.

MoonShadow doesn't mind what people choose to run. He just objects to people using "Linux is more complicated than Windows" as a reason for not switching, because he doesn't think it's true (note that this is different from saying "I'd need to learn to do lots of stuff I already know how to do under Windows", which MoonShadow can definitely appreciate - he uses lazyness as an excuse a lot himself).

Hawk dual boots 98 and Debian.  I use 98 for playing games and Debian for everything else.  Why?  Because I got bored of Windows BSODing the whole time.  I've been running Debian for just under a year now and its only totally died when I was setting up my shiny new graphics card (apparently the motherboard couldn't handle running it at full speed, so it wasn't really Linux's fault).  I reinstalled 98 last week after having grabbed some of the previous install's partition for Linux a few months ago (after LiveForSpeed v0.2 came out I *needed* Windows again :-)  It got totally confused by the latest drivers for my graphics card and couldn't work out how to use one of my network cards... 
Oh, and I wouldn't really recommend Debian for beginners (unless someone can set it up for you and show you the ropes) - I went in at the deep end but then I'm really a CompSci.  Allegedly Red Hat is easier to install than Windows though.

ColinT would disagree here. I've been using Debian for 6 years now, and am pleased as anything with it. Switched from Redhat, prompted by not understanding HD geometry and wiping all my data, and partly from availability of LocalKnowledge?. Last time I installed Debian, it seemed to require NonZero? knowledge on the partitioning step - but even that had aquired some fancy text mode interface.

This said, I wouldn't entirely SwitchToLinux. I currently wish to (a) NAT, (b) play MP3s, (c) Web, (d) email, (e) WorkFromHome?. I wouldn't be without Linux for (a) and (d). Pine rocks, and netfilter is not too painful if you have a few days to spare. (b) has forced me to switch to the 2.5 kernel (ick) to stop my music playing badly. (c) is managable with Mozilla. (e) Appears to be out of the question at the moment, due to Microsoft's irritating PPTP extensions.

VPN is good - usually I use a Windows box behind NAT for that. But wouldn't it be nice not to have to turn on my main PC to quickly look at my office email? So after many hours, I got MPPE working on my 2.4 kernel. Then discovered neither Microsoft/Outlook nor TerminalServicesClient work over NAT - though I still never understood why TerminalServicesClient didn't. Having now found rdesktop?, I can't apply the MPPE patch. If I was a C coder, I'm sure I wouldn't be too worried by this little issue (there can't be that much difference between malloc and vmalloc surely?? That's all it complains about!). Sadly I am not and don't really have the time to become one.

Thinking about this more - wouldn't it be nice not to have to quickly check my office email from home? But this key need means that I won't be able to SwitchToLinux until Wine? gets a lot better.

Vitenka does, despite all this griping, have a /LinuxBox? set up.  It's redhat7, because that's the distro that installed successfully.  It sits there running samba and being external file storage, and that's all it does right now - because I can't get NAT set up, nor DNS proxy - nor even a recent version of apache.  So my main box is 98 which I use for a permanent apache server, email, gaming, writing, programming, some graphics work, watching videos, playing music, web and video capture.  --Vitenka (Average uptime is 3-4 days)
What's up with NAT? That's done in the kernel, isn't it? You just need a utility to prod values in. - MoonShadow
It's finding the correct values to prod in.  I want it set up slightly differently from the way all the tutorials set it up, which means I have to learn what all those arcane things mean.  Unhelped by this being the third system for doing it, I am having trouble working up the motivation.  Especially when it seems my hub is doing a sufficient job for everything except virus firewall type purposes.  (Desired system - first filter out undesireable packets - then send some services to one box, and all other packets to the other.)  --Vitenka

Re: Apt not going wrong.  Gettext (which almost every package seems to rely upon) needs a library, of which only a broken version exists in apt.  I managed to fix this, but it required a knowledge of makefiles which the average user surely does not have and searching google for quite some time for a replacement header file.
Now, I admit, on windows, a similar problem would have involved me giving up on whatever was trying to use such a broken library and using an alternative program.  the difference is that, nine times out of ten, on windows such an alternate program exists.  Linux, OTOH, seems focussed around only a couple of core library groups - which programs expect to work.
On 'dows, people code to fourteen sets of core libraries - and code AROUND the bugs, because they know they are there - the libraries are old and stable.

I also admit that a lot of the benefit of windows is just that I have a lot more experience with it.  Anyway, I gave up and now have a BSD box which I think is fairly well set up - but I don't know and it worries me.  --Vitenka
You have BSD? Neat! NetBSD?, FreeBSD? or that other one I can't remember? And how did you go about installing it? - CorkScrew the hopeless PseudoCompSci
PeterTaylor uses a BSD at work. It's called OS X...
FreeBSD? I think, and installing was easy enough since I was nuking a whole drive.  It did take it a while to manage to both activate a network card and get dhcp up and talk to an ftp server though.  After that, I had guidance in IRC which was absolutely vital to tell me how to get ports talking about the newest versions of stuff, had to fix the problem I talk about above - and then updated the few bits of software I needed.  Had a real pain trying to convince it that I did not under any circumstances want X, though.  --Vitenka
What IRC channel? I assume you installed off CD? - CorkScrew
#lobby from morat irc ;)  The process went something like:

CategoryComputing CategoryComedy (the top bit)
See also the [list of self-contained boot-from-CD distributions].

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