Originally Published: Saturday, 10 July 1999 Author: Kevin Breit
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Newbie Questions

I have been running Linux on my desktop system for about a month now. I got everything set up, and haven't been happier with my computer. A lot of the reviews Linux has gotten, have complimented many aspects of the OS. People have listened. In the past year, the Linux market share has grown by 200%. I have spent a lot of time in the IRC channel #linuxhelp on the Open Projects server. Due to the large influx of newbies in the Linux community, I have seen a lot of newbies come into the channel to ask questions. No one has any problems against that. After looking at newbies ask questions, I have seen that most of the questions newbies ask are the same. I am going to try to answer a few of those questions....


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I have been running Linux on my desktop system for about a month now. I got everything set up, and haven't been happier with my computer. A lot of the reviews Linux has gotten, have complimented many aspects of the OS. People have listened. In the past year, the Linux market share has grown by 200%. I have spent a lot of time in the IRC channel #linuxhelp on the Open Projects server. Due to the large influx of newbies in the Linux community, I have seen a lot of newbies come into the channel to ask questions. No one has any problems against that. After looking at newbies ask questions, I have seen that most of the questions newbies ask are the same. I am going to try to answer a few of those questions.

Can I have Windows and Linux on the same machine?

Most definitetly. I am doing that as we speak. I don't use Windows much anymore, but I have Windows on my other hard drive. A lot of people use a small program called LILO, or LInux LOader. That is what I am currently using now to dual-boot my system. It simply rewrites the boot sector to boot Linux instead of Windows. LILO comes with most Linux distributions and is free to download from the Web.

Another popular program is System Commander. System Commander is not a free alternative. However, System Commander is a lot easier to install and get setup than LILO.

There are probably a good half-dozen to a dozen different dual-boot programs out on the Linux front today. I personally prefer LILO, because it is so customizable. But, if you want an easy setup, then go with System Commander.

What distribution should I use?

This is probably the most common question that gets asked. Red Hat happens to be currently the most popular. All the distributions are basically the same, but with a few changes. However, Red Hat is also the most controversial. There are a lot of distrubutions to select from. I am currently running Slackware 4.0 with the 2.2.6 kernel. If you want to learn the OS really well, start out with a harder distribution, and not Red Hat. If you don't really care about learning the OS too well, then go with Red Hat.

Can I run my Windows programs on Linux?

This answer is yes and no. There is a program on the Linux market called WINE or WINE Is Not An Emulator. WINE will run some of the Windows applications. But like all of Linux, developments happen quite often. You can check winehq.com for a list of supported applications, and can download straight from there.

Can I run a GUI, like Windows?

Yes. As a matter of fact, I am doing that now. I am running KDE. KDE and GNOME are the two most popular GUI's in Linux. They are extremely customizable and sleek looking. Personally, I think they are nicer looking than the Windows GUI. They aren't quite as easy to use as the Windows interface, but that is quickly changing.

Can I type up documents in Linux?

As expected, yes. There are numerous word processors on the Linux front right now. I am typing this up in Corel's WordPerfect 8. Corel released the Linux port for free. Another popular one is the German based company, Star Division, with their product StarOffice. That is a whole suite compared to WordPerfect. Some people prefer the text based editor, VI. The word processors in Linux are all extremely equipped and powerful.

Will my modem work?

That is a hard question to answer. If your modem is an ISA modem, then yes. But, if you have a PCI modem, then no. Most PCI modems are Winmodems. Winmodems are meant for Windows. Heck, Winmodems don't even run in DOS. The reason that Linux won't support PCI modems is that PCI modems want to have the system processor process the data. ISA modems want to have an onboard chip which processes in the information. That relives strain on the processor, thus makes your system faster.

Where can I get a cheap CD of Linux?

My personal favorite place is Cheapbytes, which can be found at Cheapbytes.Com. I bought my two Slackware 4.0 CD's for $8.99 or something like that. It's cheap and comes with all you'll need.

Do I need to reformat my hard drive to use Linux?

That question is another yes and no answer. I have two hard drives, so I formatted the second drive and then had the first one be Windows. So, I didn't lose one bit of Windows information. If you need to install Linux with only one hard drive, then yes.

There is also a very good alternative to having to reformat. There is a program called fips 2.0. It will split up your FAT partition and then you can make the new partition a Linux native partition, without losing one byte of your Windows data. Cool eh?

I hope that this FAQ has helped a few people out. I wish you all good luck with Linux. Trust me though, use Linux... it's the best thing I've done for my computer.





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