Saturday, March 23, 2013

How can I start Linux and what distribution do you think I should use?

Q. I want to use Linux because I have heard that it is significantly better than IE. My entire family is technologically inept and we only have one computer. How do you think I should start and what distribution do you recommend for a beginner who plans on programming and the like?Any helpful suggestions will be appreciated.

A. I thoroughly recommend two Linux distros.

Linux Mint 9 Main Edition which is based upon Ubuntu 10.04

Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) which is based upon Debian Lenny/Squeeze

Both are easy to install and use plus they come with much of the software you are likely to need preinstalled

Linux Mint 9 Download

The Perfect Desktop - Linux Mint 9 (Isadora)

Linux Mint Debian Download

Linux Mint 9/Debian User Guide pdf.

HowTo install Nvidia Graphics Drivers on Debian

Alternatively install Linux Mint as a dual-boot with Windows using mint4win without partitioning mint4win works the same as Wubi as described below (not available on Linux Mint Debian)

You keep Windows as it is, mint4win only adds an extra option to boot into Linux Mint. mint4win does not require you to modify the partitions of your PC, or to use a different bootloader, and does not install special drivers. It works just like any other application.

mint4win keeps most of the files in one folder, and if you do not like it, you can simply uninstall it as any other application.

Boot in to windows insert the Linux Mint LiveCD and you will offered the option of installing inside windows which is where the mint4win installer comes in, you will be asked how many gigabytes you wish to allocate to Linux Mint (I recommend 8gb) then you set a password for your installation then click install and thats it.

Once Linux Mint is fully installed upon starting your PC you will be given a choice of which operating system you want to use Windows or Linux Mint

You download the ISO. image of Linux Mint 9 or Linux Mint Debian then you need to create a Bootable LiveCD/DVD for installation

Linux Mint 9 and Linux Mint Debian can also be run direct from the LiveCD/DVD from Booting up without touching your Hard Drive


How can I remove Linux from my computer and restore the partition space to windows?
Q. I have both Linux Mint 11 and windows 7 on my computer and I no longer want it on my computer so... ya, pretty much says it all in the title.

A. (NOTE: A page titled "How to uninstall Fedora" was added to the project wiki after this blog was published, as noted in the comment section below in a post titled "Contribution is easy.")

Try "remove Fedora."


Go to Ubuntu's official documentation site and search for "uninstall Ubuntu."

You won't find anything in the "official" documentation but in the "community" section you find two entries that state "Wubi allows you to install and uninstall Ubuntu...."

In an installed Ubuntu distribution, clicking on Help and searching for uninstalling or removing Ubuntu finds nothing. A link ârepeat the search online at the Ubuntu help pagesâ brings up a 404 â page not found.

If you look hard enough on the real community support pages you'll find a post from July 2007 titled "HowTo: Remove Ubuntu (& Restore Windows)" .

Have a cow
The post starts out: "Okay, I know some people are going to have a cow because I'm posting this."

(No kidding. Just take a look at the excoriating flames that are sure to appear in the comments section of this blog.)

OpenSUSE does better. A search there finds the page titled SDB:How to Uninstall Linux from December 2006. The page includes more than 1,300 words to describe various processes.

Go to Google and search "install Linux" and you get about 1,450,000 hits. Try "uninstall Linux" and you get about 16,800. "Remove Linux" gets you about 53,300.

Why is it so hard to find instructions to remove Linux and then so hard to actually do it?

Why can't you just easily find the uninstall procedure in a help file, and click a button and follow the instructions?

Windows makes it easy
Opening the Windows XP Help and Support Center and searching for "uninstall Windows" brings up, first thing, "Uninstall Windows XP" and a 5-step process from the Control Center.

Did you know that in a dual-boot install Linux will partition your hard disk and if you remove the partitions without restoring the Master Boot Record on your boot-up disk, your computer won't start?

Did you know you'll likely need separate applications such as fixmbr or fdisk or partitioning software to get your system back the way it was, hopefully having not lost any data? Or you may need to change a BIOS setting to boot to a Windows CD and use its "Recovery Console?" These all depend on your version of Linux. Again, openSUSE seems to do the best job in automating the process, with the "YaST2 Control Center."

Oh, and if that dual installation included Windows, and partitions were resized, "Microsoft does not support Windows installed on partitions manipulated in this manner."

So it's just you and that Linux documentation. Good luck.

Now, I don't have any great love for Windows and I like Linux. I really do. I'm going to use it and learn a lot more about it.

But if you're a newbie like me, you'd best be warned. Searching various Linux forums finds a lot of users who have had problems uninstalling the OS and have lost data in the process.

Go back to Windoze? You're stupid
And while there are some helpful Linux aficionados who try to help these people out -- and others searching for uninstall help -- there are too many posters who take the attitude along the lines of: "Why would you want to uninstall Linux? That's crazy. You must be stupid to want to go back to Windoze."

If you want to try Linux out while keeping Windows, it's a real good idea to try it from a "live" Linux CD/DVD instead of installing it on a hard disk. Iâve tried several. The response is slower, of course, but you get an idea of how it works and donât risk losing anything. For Ubuntu the Wubi installer accomplishes the same thing by treating Ubuntu as a Windows application.

Do your homework
If you do install Linux on a disk, make sure you do a full system backup. And make sure you have a bootable "rescue" or "system" CD. And really do your homework. Read up on disk partitioning and logical volumes and extended partitions and mounts; and GRUB and LILO bootloaders; and NTFS, FAT 32 and ext3 file systems; and gparted and maybe the commercial app Partition Magic -- which supposedly merges/resizes partitions without destroying data -- and so on.

Then read it all again. And be careful our there.

How different is a Linux network compared to a Unix network?
Q. How different is a Linux network compared to a Unix network? I understand a Unix network has mainframes, etc.

What are the things a Unix network has but a Linux network does not have and can never have?

A. Uhm... nooo.... Unix networking has about zero to do with mainframes.

Actually, Unix networking and Linux networking are pretty darned close with little or no exceptions.

Where are you getting your information from? Where ever it is, its bad information. Don't go there any more.

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