Tell me about Linux

Discussion in 'Technology' started by RacerX_GTO, Aug 4, 2014.

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  1. RacerX_GTO

    RacerX_GTO F1 World Champ
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    Reaching the end of my rope with Microsnot games. It's what they are, games.
    Microsoft may do the unthinkable to make you dump XP, Vista and Windows 7 - Yahoo News


    Apple OS is nice, not opposed to it, but as a former IT guy, I like to tweak to my liking, not accept the one size mandatory for all.

    I want to hear the input from Linux users who are able to run most common Windows programs, pros/cons, is all the tweaking really worth it, once you get it set up to where you want it how stable, internet security, etc. Anyone?
     
  2. Fast_ian

    Fast_ian Two Time F1 World Champ

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    #2 Fast_ian, Aug 5, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
    In a word; Phenomenal!....

    I'd suggest grabbing the latest version of Ubuntu. You can download it to a USB stick or burn to a good old fashioned CD and let it probe your machine - I'll almost guarantee it will find & understand everything you've got from display type thru sound cards, microphones and cameras. Assuming that goes well, take great joy in letting it then format your HD and install itself. Follow the instructions and prepare to be impressed! It really is that good these days IMO.

    The default Libre Office is nowadays more compatible with M$ Office than, well, M$ themselves. It'll read (& write) everything anyone can throw at you. [Very occasionally, M$ fonts may need converting as they like to use proprietary stuff, but it'll handle it just fine.]

    As a 'tinkerer' you may even be a little disappointed; the days of having to poke at it to get it configured are gone - It quite simply flat out works!

    Security? Best there is per the latest UK security agency tests. No more worries about viruses, malware and so on. The default firewall config is great for the vast majority, but if you want to poke at it there's now some nice tools to configure that too.

    Resources? It's screaming fast on even 'dated' H/W these days. It'll speed up your existing environment, I (almost) guarantee it.

    Stability? Rock solid.

    And of course, in the unlikely event you have any issues, the documentation is about the best there is. Still stuck? Chances are someone's been there before, so a good old fashioned search of the relevant forum will likely turn up the answer. And if not, and you do post a question, chances are it'll be answered (politely these days too! ;)) in a matter of minutes! A few hours if it happens to be a really tough one.

    I really can't speak highly enough of where it's come to over the past few years. And of course if you want to do development, run DB or web servers and so on, it's great there too.

    I'm a fan! :)

    Good luck - Please report back how it goes.

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
  3. JJ

    JJ Formula Junior

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    I'd love to make the switch wholesale, but there are some specialized software packages that I run which are not available for Linux. In your experience, what's the best way to handle these?
     
  4. barabba

    barabba Formula Junior
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    virtual machine
     
  5. JJ

    JJ Formula Junior

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    That means maintaining two operating systems instead of one. Combine that with the learning curve of Linux for ordinary/administrative tasks and I'm not sure I'm seeing a productivity gain.
     
  6. Fast_ian

    Fast_ian Two Time F1 World Champ

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    Caveat; my experience here is limited, YMMV, be aware of what you paid for these comments, etc. I've been fortunate enough to not need to run any Windows stuff in a long time now. :)

    A VM may indeed be the way to go as suggested, we'll get back to that. However, another open source project that's come a long way recently is 'Wine' ('Wine Is Not an Emulator', clever, huh! ;))

    I haven't used it, but the reviews are constantly improving, and the list of packages that now run 'perfectly' using it seems to be ever expanding.

    If you're lucky, the stuff you need shows up in their application database as being either platinum or gold certified. If they do, I think you're home free and would certainly recommend trying that approach first.

    WineHQ - Browse Applications

    [I suspect you're not looking to just run games here, so I'd be really interested to know if it does support what you need to run. Again, please report back.]

    If your stuff doesn't show up, then a VM is the next option. I'd suggest checking out VirtualBox first as it's free and Open Source. All the VM options require a 'legitimate' Windows OS (of whatever flavor) license, but presumably you've got that already, so no big deal.

    FWIW, more & more folks are moving their XP (& even 7) environments into the virtual world.... XP SP3 is, in fairness, pretty solid. Pop it into a VM and give the Empire the finger..... You do of course once again need to be somewhat aware of viruses etc, but in my experience good old AVG Free behind the default Linux firewall was good enough.

    HTH, Cheers,
    Ian
     
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  8. Fast_ian

    Fast_ian Two Time F1 World Champ

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    A valid criticism.

    Except, in a VM, the client OS can be locked & check pointed internally. Keep your data elsewhere - The cloud, wherever....

    The VM and it's 'contents' can further then be backed up using your regular Linux regime.

    If things go tits up, restoring the while thing is then pretty darn easy.

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
  9. JJ

    JJ Formula Junior

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    Thanks for the tips! As you've correctly surmised, I have no interest in games. :)

    Most of what I use regularly is not on that list, but I'm willing to give it another go if you can give me a compelling answer to the single burning question I've had since I first built a dual-boot Win/Linux laptop in 1996... Why?
     
  10. JJ

    JJ Formula Junior

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    Agreed, though none of these things requires Linux. These are all features of VMs in general.

    I do in fact use a Linux VM for general web surfing that reverts to its original state when shut down. Linux has proven to be a good second OS, but I just don't see the value proposition as a primary. Yes, the days of hunting for drivers are generally over and the software ecosystem is catching up, but it's still a very, very long way behind the Windows ecosystem. I've been revisiting periodically for going on 20 years now hoping that it would become a viable alternative for me, but it just hasn't managed to overcome the software problem.

    Come to think of it, I think I'm going to make my kids use it for their PCs. They don't operate under the same restrictions I do and the advantages are numerous for them.
     
  11. RacerX_GTO

    RacerX_GTO F1 World Champ
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    Sounds excellent, thanks! I have a sacrificial machine I'll give this a try upon. I'll set some time aside and give it a go. Then later, fully cut myself off from The Empire.
     
  12. Gran Drewismo

    Gran Drewismo F1 Rookie

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    Used Unix and Linux for years in different scenarios both personal and business, always came back to Windows and OS X.
     
  13. Fast_ian

    Fast_ian Two Time F1 World Champ

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    I guess I'd be interested to know exactly what it is for which there are no alternatives these days?

    1996 is, quite literally, an entire lifetime away. For sure, back then it was a geeks curiosity at best. (System V, BSD even early Solaris were way ahead).

    But, today, that you're even asking that question makes me 'nervous', like you're trying to set me up in some way I don't (yet anyway) understand?..... ;)

    How many reasons do you want? In no particular order;

    - it works.
    - it's fast.
    - it's reliable.
    - it's secure.
    - it's free.
    - it's scalable in ways Windows can only dream of.
    - it's immune to the viruses and other BS on Windows.
    - you don't have to reinstall it every few months when it breaks.
    - you don't have to spend hours searching for 'drivers', which may then break the rest of the machine.
    - the don't have to constantly check you're not being spy'd upon.
    - you don't have to (pay someone) to delve into some bizarre 'registry' when it breaks. Which it will.
    - support is the best you're going to see anywhere.
    - the documentation is superb.

    I could go on.

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
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  15. Fast_ian

    Fast_ian Two Time F1 World Champ

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    True. But I fail to see why you'd run a Windows VM inside Windows.

    You know about the educational version I presume;

    https://www.edubuntu.org/about

    A pretty good option for those who's kids are more 'computer literate‘ than they are these days.....

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
  16. JJ

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    FWIW, my primary line of business is automated futures trading and virtually none of the software I use day to day will run on Linux. I did find one of my tools on that list, but it is rated Bronze (whatever that means). Quickbooks appears to be rated as "Garbage".

    I promise, I am absolutely not trying to set you up. I'm the geeky tinkerer type who has been down this road at least a dozen times and this is something I've struggled with every time. It's fun and interesting to set Linux up and get it running. So much fun that I do it at least once every year or two and I currently maintain a Linux VM. Thing is, though, I always reach a point where I try to get some real work done and find that there is a giant mountain to climb.

    First, merely stopping "real work" to find new tools/utilities to replace all the old tools/utilities that I've collected over the years is a productivity killer, nevermind learning how to use the new packages efficiently.

    Next is learning where to find all the settings, etc. It's bad enough when Microsoft needlessly moves them from version to version...

    Then there's development. I've been using Visual Studio for as long as I can remember, and that's a pretty long time. Learning another IDE is a pretty big investment of time and effort, and my coding is often done under time pressure.

    Finally, I can't honestly say that I have any of the problems you've cited as inherent to Windows to any great extent. I build my own PCs with high quality components and overclock the daylights out of them. The drivers all work, the computers don't crash, I haven't had a virus in years, scalability isn't an issue, and so on. They work, work well, and I don't think much about them. (I think most of the problems people blame Windows for are problems induced by low end hardware or user error. Windows is a pretty easy target.) This makes it hard to see a real payoff in terms of avoided pain.

    As a result, all I can see after investing many, many hours and mental effort is winding up pretty much right back where I started. That's the bottom line I keep coming back to and I still haven't seen Linux present a compelling case for anyone who doesn't have extremely specialized needs.

    I am really, sincerely, hoping that you can show me that there is something I'm missing.

    P.S. The day I pay someone to edit my registry is the day you can safely open your space heater business in Hades. ;) I'm sure you can relate to that!
     
  17. JJ

    JJ Formula Junior

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    #15 JJ, Aug 5, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
  18. Fast_ian

    Fast_ian Two Time F1 World Champ

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    #16 Fast_ian, Aug 6, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2014
    Fair enough. [I think "bronze" means it may just about limp along under Wine! :( I believe to be really useful, you want the app to be rated platinum or at least gold... ]

    :D Indeed ;)

    A well reasoned argument. Thanks. ;)

    I'd counter by saying you're a *long* way from the "typical" end user of a computer today. And I mean that in the most positive sense - You obviously know what you're doing & what you want. Windows delivers that for you. Very good. [FWIW, there are Quickbooks alternatives, but if you're a "power user", I agree, that ones proven tough to supplant. :( ]

    But "most" folk out there, at least home users, (we can return to "business" environments later) have maybe a handful of machines, probably on a wi-fi network. Most don't know (or want to know) about DHCP, DNS and NAT etc. They and their families want to surf, email, skype, use Office, maintain their music & video libraries etc. Some may want to edit photos & videos etc.

    They want systems that just plain work "out of the box", don't need constant maintenance, don't catch viruses all the time, and are reliable.

    Today (not true a few years back), I fervently believe Linux (particularly Ubuntu) fills that, and indeed many more, needs better than anything from Microsoft. Without any "tinkering" or delving under the hood needed.

    At the other end of the scale is the "dedicated" geek, and Linux offers all of the modern development tools. Generally for free of course. Visual Studio is "OK", and if you know it & love it, you're good. But I'd say there's plenty of more modern, powerful and flexible alternatives. It's a fabulous and scalable server environment with truly state of the art management tools that knocks anything from the Empire into a cocked hat. [IMHO ;)]

    Then in the data center; It's quite simply kicking everyone else's ass these days. But that's a different debate from where we came in.

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
  19. Fast_ian

    Fast_ian Two Time F1 World Champ

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    I just recently found and threw out my RH5.2 disks.....

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
  20. Fast_ian

    Fast_ian Two Time F1 World Champ

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    Meant to note earlier, a great option! A "sacrificial" machine! Love it!.... ;)

    You're not "nervous" about it eating any data etc and can allow it to do its thing with impunity! [Although, it's really very, very "well behaved" these days too.] Give it the whole hard drive and let it install its preferred boat loader.

    Hopefully!.... Again, please report back.

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
  21. EnzymaticRacer

    EnzymaticRacer F1 Rookie
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    #19 EnzymaticRacer, Aug 6, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2014
    For me, installing Ubuntu 13 on my home laptop in a dual boot setup was fun for a while.

    No offense to Fast Ian, but IMO his opinions on the capabilities of Linux are a little "rose-colored".

    I too have dabbled in Linux over a number of years. First with Fedora (probably the wrong idea), and then Ubuntu. I've had Ubuntu installed on my system for well over a year now.

    The simple facts are, that Linux doesn't "just work" for everybody. Drivers don't always get detected properly. Linux isn't always "maintenance free". Software doesn't always get better with each update. Finding software packages can be a hassle. Nevermind getting them installed. God forbid one of them updates on you and breaks. Even using the Ubuntu Software center over the past year has been very hit or miss for me. New software version released? Have fun in terminal updating it and all of it's dependencies!

    Linux definitely has it's own quirks. For instance, on DAY 1 (and every day since... through multiple updates, etc.) Firefox has, without fail, FAILED to preserve my sessions. I've simply given up trying to get firefox to preserve any tabs for me. This is software that should be working perfectly, but isn't, and never has.

    New version of Ubuntu released? Don't update yet until you make sure that the software you need to use is compatible with the new version. (I'm suggesting this... from experience.)

    LibreOffice is fine, if all you need to do is basic stuff. Have any semi complicated word documents or spreadsheets? Don't let LibreOffice touch them, lest you end up with a corrupted file.


    Now, dabbling in Linux can be fun. I'm also a tinkerer, so I enjoy it, when I have the time. But at the same time, I'm a professional who needs a functional computer when I need a functional computer. Hence, the dual boot. If you can get Ubuntu to work for you, more power to you!

    After spending months actively evaluating whether or not Linux would work for me, I was forced to come to the conclusion that it just can't replace Windows. Not yet, anyways. Maybe in another decade. I still have it installed because it does have some special tools that aren't available in Windows, and I still like to play, but otherwise Windows 7 is still a better OS.


    edit... Forgot to say that I am a fan of linux, but I felt the need to play devil's advocate here based on my personal experiences with Linux. Just wanted to make everyone aware that Linux isn't always Rainbows and Unicorns, hehe.
     
  22. barabba

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    A bit off-topic probably, but IMHO if you buy a powerful Macbook with a windows vm you have the best setup possible in terms of simplicity and reliability.

    My MacBook hasn't crashed once in four years of heavy duty use, quite amazing (but all in all both OS X and Linux share the same DNA).
     
  23. Fast_ian

    Fast_ian Two Time F1 World Champ

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    Indeed.

    In fairness, reading back through my posts, I must confess my "enthusiasm" probably got ahead of reality.... I still maintain its a much superior environment to anything from the Empire, but some of your caveats are well made:

    - Do not simply move to the next release without good reason! - If what you've got (particularly the apps) is working, stick with it. Allow it to install patches as required, but I too have seen some buddies I've "sold" it too get screwed by trying to install "all new releases". :( [The good news is that at least they'd backed the sucker up and were able to get out! ;)]

    - I haven't had any issues with back & forth in Libreoffice, but I'm not a bleeding edge S/S user either. Backups are your friend....

    - I'm not, and never really have been, a fan of Firefox. Many other options depending on what you want.

    FWIW, the following just popped into my mailbox - Interesting reading about some desktop choices if you're thinking of having a look at it.

    How to Choose the Best Linux Desktop for You | Linux.com

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
  24. otaku

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    I first started using linux from a bootable cd german distro called knoppix still handy but now there are so many others ubuntu being the easiest way to go I've helped many folks with lower incomes or disabilities get computers running with ubuntu. Mint is also nice. As others have said its as reliable and solid as you can get I'd recommend building or buying a machine made for linux though as I and others have spent quite a bit of time getting certain devices to work with linux distros. If your into gaming you will be somewhat limited dual booting may still be necessary but between wine and soon steam support things are looking up
     
  25. bad_crc

    bad_crc Rookie

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    I have to disagree with some of this, specifically on the support front.

    My experiance with using forums for trying to find a solution in Ubuntu usually ends up somewhat like this:

    me: How do I do X?

    person6: Why would you want to X?

    person1: What release level are you running?

    me: Version NNN

    person2: Oh you don't want that version, move to MMM.

    person1: Try doing <insert crypic command1 here but not explain what cryptic command does>

    person3: No, don't do that, do < insert other crypitc command2 but also not explain what command does >

    person4: person1 and person3 are stupid, I've been using linux for 15+ years ( to prove linux cred ), you want to do < insert series of even more cryptic commands, again no explaination added>

    person5: Ubuntu sucks, use Mint.

    me: I tried <insert cryptic command1> but it didn't work.

    person1: Oh you need to run as root, or try < insert cyptic command3 >

    person6: Mint is crap, Ubuntu has such a more streamlined UI

    me: I tried <insert cryptic command3> but that didn't work either. Says command not found

    person3: I told you, run < insert cryptic command2>

    person1: Oh, you need to install package <package> first.

    me: How do i do that?


    aaaand. the converation basically repeats itself...


    So if you do not mind wading through that kind of stuff, by all means, knock yourself out. :p
     
  26. JJ

    JJ Formula Junior

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    Update: So this thread has awakened the bug once again! I've now got Linux running on my laptop and have been using a Windows VM for the Win apps I need. On the laptop, it isn't nearly as many as on my primary boxes at home, and the Linux project has been a success thus far. There is another 4G SODIMM in the mail ($45) that should complete the package. The primary benefit is added security when traveling and it looks like this will be a permanent change!

    For one of my desktops, I've used the vmware tool that lets you convert a running PC into a VM and will be experimenting with the same setup there. It hasn't been perfectly smooth, TBH. However, I think given the usage it'll make more sense to run a Linux VM for the things that Linux does well and stick with Windows as host.

    Ian, thanks for the nudge!
     
  27. Fast_ian

    Fast_ian Two Time F1 World Champ

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    :D Very good!

    It certainly used to be that way, I agree. But, at least the Ubuntu forums have got a lot better that way recently - In fact, it's more likely that anyone(s) taking that approach will be 'reprimanded' these days..... They've eventually learnt that if 'they' want people to take up their religion (!), it's better to be helpful to folk - even if that does mean just pointing them to the correct FAQ.

    As for adding packages and keeping things up to date, the current package manager does a fine job these days..... Although, I do agree, jumping to the latest release just for the sake of it doesn't make much sense if you've got something that's working for you - just keep it patched and carry on unless there some really compelling reason to move on.

    You're very welcome! Glad it's (at least somewhat) working out for you - I was a little 'nervous' that I'd oversold it there for a while!

    Cheers,
    Ian
     

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