Is Linux OS something an average Joe can load and use?

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Is Linux OS something an average Joe can load and use?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / August 21, 2015 5:53 PM PDT

Question:

Is Linux OS something an average Joe can load and use?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but every time your newsletter’s discussion is about upgrading to a new operating system, someone always spouts off “just use Linux!” While I always thought these comments were unhelpful to the discussion itself, one day I started wondering about this free operating system. So here’s my questions for the people who always boast Linux as an alternative operating system. Honestly, how realistic is it for the average “Joe” Windows user to install and use a Linux? I have an ancient Dell laptop running XP just collecting dust and there’s no chance in hell that it would be ever be upgradable to any modern Windows OS, so I thought maybe I could possibly revive it by using Linux as the alternative OS and tinker with it. By no means am I a technical person, but what I’m willing to do is learn something new and to see if Linux is something easy enough that I can possibly set up on my old laptop and actually make use of it. If any of you veteran Linux users can give me some ideas of what Linux to use, the effort it would be needed to take on this challenge, I’d love to hear about the process, and the pros/cons about Linux. The information you provide will help me determine if this challenge is within my technical reach. Thanks for the help in advance.

–Submitted by: Roger F.

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The average joe…

by Dafydd Forum moderator / August 21, 2015 6:05 PM PDT

In reply to: Is Linux OS something an average Joe can load and use?

falls down on burning the “image” to a dvd/usb. Using Linux does not need college qualifications.
Dafydd.

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“The average joe…” isn’t that dumb.

by Hartiq / August 21, 2015 7:05 PM PDT

In reply to: The average joe…

” … falls down on burning the “image” to a dvd/usb.”.
That hasn’t been needed for at least ten years. Live distributions, ones that come on CD’s are freely available stuck to the front of computer magazines. These will run *from* the CD’s or can be copied to a stick.
Or can even be installed with one mouse-click (usually) to your local hard drive.

Unix isn’t a scary monster or a spellbook full of traps and daemons ready to eat the unwary. It is simply a massive program that tells the PC what to do with smaller programs, an Operating System.
Just like Windows or the OS that runs your watch or video machine.

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Sure.. As long as everything goes well.

by Wolfie2k5 / August 21, 2015 10:45 PM PDT

In reply to: “The average joe…” isn’t that dumb.

FWIW, Linux isn’t that bad – as long as everything goes the way it should.

I have a system in my shop right now that has an issue with what likely is a bad CPU. It wants to blow a BSoD running or trying to install any flavor of Windows from Vista to 8.1 – and does so consistently at about the same spot in the boot cycle. Just for grins I tried downloading and installing a copy of the latest Ubuntu… The boot started off OK – there were two small icons on the bottom of the screen… Then all hades broke loose. Line after line of cryptic text popped up on the screen before the system finally gave up trying to load Ubuntu.

Mind you, I didn’t bother trying to decrypt the problem as this isn’t the OS the customer was expecting on his system. The point here is that while Windows blows chunks with a simple BSoD, Linux coughs up page after page of VERY cryptic messages that can be quite intimidating – especially to a novice user.

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It booted a LIVE version OK?

by James Denison / August 21, 2015 10:48 PM PDT

In reply to: Sure.. As long as everything goes well.

The failure was when trying to install? Maybe failing hard drive with bad sectors.

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Maybe failing hard drive with bad sectors.

by Hartiq / August 22, 2015 5:20 AM PDT

In reply to: It booted a LIVE version OK?

“Maybe failing hard drive with bad sectors.”
If so, the Unixxy diagnostics and the BSoD would both have said so, but you do need to learn how to read them. Screens full of “geeky buck-rodgers rubbish” won’t mean much when you first see them. It takes time and effort to pick out the one or two lines that matter.
Which is why saving to print is ever so cool.

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as it should

by tedtks / August 28, 2015 8:18 PM PDT

In reply to: Sure.. As long as everything goes well.

That is the key. “as it should”, until something messes with things.
I have only been using Linux Mint 17.1 for 6 months, then the 17.2 hit my update list. I should have known better than to jump on new updates.
2 weeks later it made (what I call) progressive errors in function. then day b4 yesterday the keyboard didnt respond – switched kb’s, no change, and you cant do much without it since everything needs your password. so, I put in the 17.1 disc – and forgot that I had read way back that it wipes all before loading hahahaha months of learning how to do things, adding some neat pics to the desktop etc and some custom loads with desktop icons. all gone. could not do a backup first cause…. it needed a password ! !
I loved that system.. but at the moment,, on my #2 XP I wonder how long before I try again.. getting too old for this crap. too bad the system install did not have a “repair” type option, or ANY option.
In fact, I was looking around at all the blankness, and the screen went bananas. Looked like a system dump of some sort that really didnt have anything in it that I could make sense out of, just kept scrolling till it stopped and a blank line with a ? hahahaha guess it was confused also hahahaha
spent too much on new equip build to let it sit. maybe get into again this fall. maybe.
BUT::: I am just one guy, and would tell anyone new – try it – you will like it !!!

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The BSoD Issue

by Hforman / August 30, 2015 2:18 PM PDT

In reply to: Sure.. As long as everything goes well.

Usually, those are drivers. Today, many of them are caused by trying to run 32-bit drivers under a 64-bit OS or visa-versa. Also, trying to run XP-level drivers under Win 7 or above. I have seen both. The desktop people at work didn’t understand this stuff.
Anyway, if you get BSoD at the same point in every boot, try hitting F8 and select “Last Known Good…” from the boot selection menu. Hope this helps you.

 

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Make It Easy – USB Multiboot 32 and 64 bit Linux Collections

by lvmixx / August 29, 2015 6:31 AM PDT

In reply to: The average joe…

9-4-2015 6-36-10 AM

USB Multiboot 2015 Eclectic 64 – USB Multiboot 2015 Lite Speed 32

Torrent Download – Eclectic 64 – Torrent Download – Lite Speed 32

9-4-2015 6-37-25 AM

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Yes.

by Hartiq / August 21, 2015 6:57 PM PDT

In reply to: Is Linux OS something an average Joe can load and use?

If you can drive a car, operate a personal video recorder, use Windows to retrieve you emails or even just watch TV and manage to change channels, Unix OSes are well within your capabilities.

Yes, it *can* become very technical and complicated and even scary but so can rying to sort out how to wire set-top boxes together.

It’s an Operating System. It tells the PC how to run programs, just like Windows, BeOS, Mac OS or anything else.

Load the Unix, start some programs and you’ll never even know the OS is there. Just like Windows.

Of course, if you *want* to fiddle, you can slowly try stuff and learn what happens, just like you have already done with Windows.

And there is *tons* of help available.

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Legacy apps on Linux

by DianaGaleM / August 21, 2015 7:10 PM PDT

In reply to: Yes.

I have some legacy apps and hardware that simply cannot run on anything “above” WinXP and that I simply *must* keep using. I’d be delighted to switch to Linux, but what is the likelihood that my legacy apps and drivers will run on it?

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download the .iso then run it from the DVD player

by richj120 / August 21, 2015 9:53 PM PDT

In reply to: Legacy apps on Linux

Linux (most distro’s) will run from the DVD. You can “test drive” it before actually installing it on your hardware. As to legacy Win programs, a lot of them can be run using Wine, a program that simulates Windows. (A lot can’t too.) If you load Linux on your machine, look for “Play on Linux” after you have installed Wine.

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They won’t. Not a chance.

by Hartiq / August 22, 2015 5:29 AM PDT

In reply to: Legacy apps on Linux

Windows stuff does not, *DOES *NOT* run in Unix. Ever. Under *any* conditions.
Windows programs (or “apps”) only ever run inside Windows.
This is just a fact of life.
You can’t run a Unix program inside Windows and you can’t run Windows programs inside Unix.

*But*: you can run a Unix/Linux OS, run some virtualiser inside it and then run your WinXP stuff. It’s like running the WinXP stuff inside a small room inside your computer’s huge office building. Or running them inside a bottle inside your computer.
Virtualbox, DosBox, CrossOver and many other VM’s or emulators or bottling, sandboxing softwares are readily available to run just about everything inside just about every OS.
They are even given away free on magazine coverdiscs, with instructions. Clear instructions.
Or you can always search online for “run XP program in Linux“. You’ll get a million hits and some will be useful.

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WRONG!

by BradJohnson2 / August 28, 2015 9:22 PM PDT

In reply to: They won’t. Not a chance.

I don’t mean to be rude, but you are dead wrong. I run Irfanview and Foxit PDF (for Windows) on my Linux Mint v17.1 install on a regular basis. There’s a program called WINE (Window emulator) which does the trick nicely and seemlessly, you can’t tell the difference between launching them and a native linux app. They function just as they do under Windohs. True, more complex programs may have specific issues, but as you referred to there is always virtualization. I use Virtualbox to run Windows virtual machines for all my work programs (yes, linux is the host OS on my work laptop). Works great and when Windoze crashes (as it does on regular basis), my linux host OS doesn’t even flinch. I can work on something else while the VM reboots. This is my 3rd work laptop running Linux in the last 5 years. Fast, robust, thin, efficient – I’ll never go back to M$ for my host OS.

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Please learn to *READ*.

by Hartiq / August 29, 2015 8:15 PM PDT

In reply to: WRONG!

From BradJohnson2: “There’s a program called WINE (Window emulator) which does the trick nicely and seemlessly, you can’t tell the difference between launching them and a native linux app. They function just as they do under Windohs.”

From Me: “*But*: you can run a Unix/Linux OS, run some virtualiser inside it and then run your WinXP stuff. It’s like running the WinXP stuff inside a small room inside your computer’s huge office building. Or running them inside a bottle inside your computer.
Virtualbox, DosBox, CrossOver and many other VM’s or emulators or bottling, sandboxing softwares are readily available to run just about everything inside just about every OS.
 ”

And exactly what do you think WINE is?
Oh, yes, it’s an emulator, bottler, sandboxer or VM software.
Windows programs do *NOT* run under Unix.
Not without help.
As I said above.

Learn to read before criticising.

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I’m actually very good at reading.

by BradJohnson2 / August 30, 2015 10:33 PM PDT

In reply to: Please learn to *READ*.

“Windows programs (or “apps”) only ever run inside Windows.
This is just a fact of life. ”

WINE is not Windows. I stand by my original statement.

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Learn to write?

by Cookeefried / September 1, 2015 4:10 AM PDT

In reply to: Please learn to *READ*.

Please learn to write in a clear way.
We haven’t all got the time to read your false opinion which changes in the end.
Wine makes it possible to run win-software. By adding windows-bits so it will run.

Believing that win-software could run in Linux doesn’t seem stupid because some Linux software run on windows for ages.
Windows emulates many other systems, like Java or html for years.

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Wine Is Not an Emulator

by litlwillie / September 2, 2015 4:39 PM PDT

In reply to: Please learn to *READ*.

For all the uninformed.

According to Hartiq: “Oh, yes, it’s an emulator, bottler, sandboxer or VM software.”

From WineHQ:

Wine (originally an acronym for “Wine Is Not an Emulator”) is a compatibility layer capable of running Windows applications on several POSIX-compliant operating systems, such as Linux, Mac OSX, & BSDInstead of simulating internal Windows logic like a virtual machine or emulator, Wine translates Windows API calls into POSIX calls on-the-fly, eliminating the performance and memory penalties of other methods and allowing you to cleanly integrate Windows applications into your desktop.

While it is true the Windoz apps do not run natively in Linus distros many Windoz app can successfully be launched and run in Linux using Wine.

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Legacy apps

by tedtks / August 28, 2015 8:24 PM PDT

In reply to: Legacy apps on Linux

Once loaded, you can add an AP that will run many MS programs, it even has a “mini” Registery to satisfy ms programs. really cool.

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A few bytes from a Linux user.

by terrypowling / August 28, 2015 10:02 PM PDT

In reply to: Legacy apps on Linux

Unlike Windows, which uses proprietor y drivers, Linux uses block drivers , meaning one block driver can operate different hardware from the cuff… and any specific driver is usually in the repository and downloads as needed… I use Mandriva linux, a colaboration between Linux mandrake and Red hat linux. Still free to download and use, updates periodically, and if you do not want to use the GUI, command line available. Some Microsoft stuff can be run using the emulator Wine..but many big software houses have a Linux version of their software. Google chrome etc runs exceptionally well, and as I use a KDE GUI desktop it very easy to use.

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Legacy apps on linux

by Cookeefried / September 1, 2015 3:54 AM PDT

In reply to: Legacy apps on Linux

Run a live version of Linux and find out if everything works!
People here speak of Linux in general, but there are so many distro’s. Some very basic and fast, some focus on beauty. Some windows software can run in a Win-emulator which also is included in the package. But after a while I stopped using them.

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if you can burn a CD/DVD you can install Linux

by aruban2 / August 21, 2015 7:07 PM PDT

In reply to: Is Linux OS something an average Joe can load and use?

I revived my old Dell D620 with Linux Mint. Downloaded DVD image, burn to DVD, copy all the stuff you REALLY want to an external drive, insert DVD reboot. Point and click icon goodness… I had a snappy new Linux lappy. Linux Mint is a sister to Ubuntu. Linux Mint and Ubuntu both felt familiar, and I have and do use apple macs. Try both see which you like better. Both give you the option to run live OR install. I knew going in that my wifi may not work but ethernet would, and so I could still get on the net and find the drivers Ubuntu used (a chore). I forgot to mention both require you be connected to the internet while installing have ethernet cable handy.

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Videos

by James Denison / August 21, 2015 7:36 PM PDT

In reply to: if you can burn a CD/DVD you can install Linux

Before even booting up a LIVE DVD or CD, take a look at what can be done, the simple, the less simple. Some good linux content providers are produced by at youtube by these members.

InfinitelyGalactic
Spatry
TOStoday
NixiePixel
Eli the Computer Guy

Spatry comparing windows in general and linux in general.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD6nqQrJx78
update a year later
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqLmOPap6u0

Here’s a recent one comparing Windows 10 vs Linux Mint 17.2

9-4-2015 6-28-24 AM

Here’s one about Linux Mint latest 17.2 version.

9-4-2015 6-28-44 AM

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Good stuff. Thank you.

by Hartiq / August 22, 2015 6:09 AM PDT

In reply to: Videos

This is why I come here. To learn good stuff. Thank you.

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RE: is-linux-os-something-an-average-joe-can-load-and-use

by Sid Boyce / August 28, 2015 5:54 PM PDT

In reply to: Videos

I have seen Linux installed by an average joe, a retired sheet metal worker now in his late seventy not only has done that several times but has installed Linux on his Mac, that was after Apple support couldn’t tell him how and he figured it out himself.

I installed openSUSE for 2 relatives, one who was a 66 year old retired bus driver whose previous knowledge was on a PC with Windows 2000 installed for him by a friend.
The other guy was 78 years old, a retired welder, never used a keyboard before and had to be told what the backspace key was and what it was used for. Next he pointed to the space bar and asked what it did.

Both those guys figured out how to burn CD’s and DVD’s, surf the web, did online updates
hooked up printers and digital cameras, all discovered without any help. The older guy also figured out and used Instant Messaging to his daughter.

I also installed openSUSE for my daughters. The older one, for security, prefers to submit her timesheets using Linux rather than using her Vista laptop.

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FINDING YOUR OLD PARTITIONS OS Linux makes your PC operable

by doug2k5 / August 29, 2015 4:11 AM PDT

In reply to: Videos

Mint has rescued many dead PC,s for me,
Linux Mint is one of the smallest Distros, Sure MINIME BY LINUXOS is mall but Mint has its own built-in system even if you are using a very old PC like a P4 it will find your partitions and will build them for you, and you have a working system again same as Linux SOX, Its just to easy, and free, I don’t see a problem only benefits, I say “Kudos” to all Linux users where XP wont load due to you old system, Mint, or especially SOX will. TRY new things, life is too short to be using WINDOZ, Wine I must say uses so much power if you want to run Windows based games, again “GAMES” if you are disabled sure play games, but if you have working appendages, get outside and enjoy LIFE, use your garbage pc to crunch numbers for BOINC,
I>E> Climate predict Seti @ Home, Malaria @ Home, do a favour for your fellow Human at one point I had 3 pc,s crunching numbers ITs fun and easy, don’t throw any electronics away, try and learn.

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Mint on that Dell D620

by EscapePod / September 1, 2015 1:08 PM PDT

In reply to: if you can burn a CD/DVD you can install Linux

@aruban2 Did you have any problems during the installation with PAE? Even after using the forcepae feature for the PentiumM, I was having a few issues. Ultimately, it is running, but very slow. I also could not get the wireless adapter (built into the D620) to work. I ended up adding an external wireless adapter (USB).

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Absolutely Yes!

by kevinthefixer / August 21, 2015 7:21 PM PDT

In reply to: Is Linux OS something an average Joe can load and use?

Fifteen years ago when I started fooling around with Linux it was not for the “average Joe”. It required a huge investment in time and a fair amount of texpertise just to get it going. Things are much different now; not only are there many user-friendly distributions (“distros”) out there, but they are much more powerful than ever before. Unless you must have some certain proprietary software, there is nothing you can’t do in Linux that you can do in Windows. The main question is whether your particular hardware is supported or not, and that has gotten much better also.

For a Linux noobie I would recommend downloading the live-CD images for Ubuntu, Puppy Linux, and Linux Mint, burning the CDs (well, Ubuntu and Linux Mint will be DVDs), and booting your PC to each one. You have invested about a dollar in blank media so far, and some time. See how you like each; these are the most user-friendly distros I know of. If you are used to XP, there is basically no learning curve, especially with Mint. It was the one I chose for my non-geek better half when we couldn’t get Win8.1 to behave on her system. This wasn’t a hardware limitation, it’s just a badly-built OS, and 10 shows no more promise. She had no problems whatsoever adapting, and her system is rock-stable and fast, which is what I had in mind when I built it.

If you decide you like one of these, and keep in mind that Ubuntu and Linux Mint will run very slowly from optical media (Puppy Linux runs from RAM if you have enough), each has its own methods of installation which you will have to read up on. They all have good howtos. If you are updating an XP machine I recommend that you simply install Linux on the partition that XP was on; not only is it not safe for you to use XP anymore, your machine could become a zombie for some malware that could get to me, too. If you must use your XP machine to burn the Linux media, please unplug the internet cable.

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Linux is for the average Joe

by ben_myers / August 21, 2015 7:24 PM PDT

In reply to: Is Linux OS something an average Joe can load and use?

Yes, the mainstream distributions (distros) of Linux look and feel a lot like Windows. Some differences, but not too hard to make a transition. I would suggest Linux Mint MATE or maybe LUbuntu for an older system. Or Linux Mint Cinnamon or Ubuntu for a system that is at least a dual core. Any of these distros can be downloaded from the various web sites. After that, it is probably most convenient to copy the distro to a flash stick, 8GB or more preferred, using the handy and free Rufus software. Thereafter, boot from the USB stick and either install or run it live (no changes to the hard drive) before deciding whether or not to install. The Distrowatch web site has information about all the major and many minor distros, including screenshots, so you can get a better idea of a distro before downloading and trying it.

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A quick how-to …

by Hartiq / August 21, 2015 7:26 PM PDT

In reply to: Is Linux OS something an average Joe can load and use?

Find a shop that sells computer magazines. Find any magazine dedicated to Linux or Unix or something like that. “Linux Format“, “Linux User“, any title that looks like those.
Buy the magazine. Buy several. Sure, they cost a few dollars but you are only ever going to do this once and it will save you *lots* of work and *days* of time.

Note: you *can* start by downloading a distro and burning it to a disc and fiddling about but the coverdiscs have already done all of the hard work so why bother?

Read the “How to use the coverdisc” instructions more than once.

Follow the instructions on how to reboot your PC using the coverdisc.

Choose one of the Unix/Linux distributions, flavours or “distros“. It doesn’t matter which as you are not going to keep it. Boot into that OS. Have a play. Have *lots* of play. Fiddle about. Try to break the OS. That is always good fun.
When you have decided whether you like that distro or not, remember which one it was and do the whole thing over again with the others.

You have now rebooted several times and have tried several flavours of Linux or Unix or both. (Yes, “Linux” is a flavour of Unix but there are *many* flavours of Linux out there and some don’t look very “Unixxy“, they resemble Windows-8).

Congratulations, you are now a Unix user and are well on your way to being able to help *others* with switching. But not yet.
First, you need to read the instructions on how to *permanently* install whichever flavour you liked best onto your PC’s hard-drive, either keeping your Windows or not as you prefer. This is the really scary bit because you are going to alter your machine *a lot* and you can mess up royally, but you won’t if you take it slowly and just follow advice.
I usually keep the Windows OS on the machine for at least a few months just in case I need something from it.

When you have installed your favorite distro, you can then go online to UseNet or the web fora for help with any problems. You can find *thousands* of online tutorials to help you become more skilled. You can even find *better* distros. And eventually you can cut the safety line and bin your dead Windows OS from your box.

*Now* you’ll be a fully-fledged, soaring Unix-user and able to help people like you are today.

OLDDOGS COMMENTS

If I can do it, anyone can, so drop Bill Gates in the shit can

and come on over.

2-6-2015 10-13-51 AM

 

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