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The Linux Challenge: Can You Really Replace Windows?

My wife was donated a laptop that she uses. However, we we're not given the original recovery CDs. I really wanted to do a re image. So, I decided to install Ubuntu version 9.10 on it.

If you have not seen Linux or have not touch it in the past few years, I would recommend at least giving it a look. I think it is an easy-to-use operating system with a lot of eye candy to it. Also, most distributions (like Ubuntu) is for free. I personally have to still use Windows for a lot of my uses. Mainly I need to use Internet Explorer for a website I use to access my work. I also do some development in .NET. It is mainly these two things that keeps Windows around for me.

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As far as setting it up, it is extremely easy. So easy, I think a third grader could probably figure out how to install it in conjunction with Windows. The first thing you want to do is to download and image of a distro of your choice. A great website I go to is distrowatch.com. If you want to get Ubuntu (which is my favorite,) go to www.ubuntu.com. It seems that Ubuntu's website auto detects your system to make sure you are downloading the right version. Make sure you choose the right version for the CPU you are using. Usually what you need to do is choose if you have an AMD CPU or and Intel CPU. Also make sure you download the right bit (32bit or 64bit.)

After downloading it, you need to create a disc image. Ubuntu is small enough to fit on a CD. Some distros will need to be burned on to DVD. Just open up the file in your computer's burning software. Usually, you would use either Nero or Roxio. Whatever you have, your software has to be able to create CD images. If you do not have software that can do this, you can go to www.nero.com and download the 'Lite' edition for free.

After your disk is created, restart your computer with the disk in it. You should be brought to a menu from the disk. If not, you might need to change the boot order on your computer to boot from CD. Since every computer is a little different, I cannot tell you how to do it in this blog. Go to your manufacturer's website to figure out how to do this.

Most distros have 'Linux Live.' Linux Live gives you the ability to run a full fledged Linux operating system right off the CD without having to install it on your computer. Full fledged! That way, you can try out the operating system first before installing it on your computer. Ubuntu gives you this option as well. You can select 'run off of CD,' and you have an option on the desktop to install it on your computer.

I decided to install Ubuntu on my computer as well. It dual boots with Windows XP. Ubuntu gives an option to automatically re size the NTFS Windows partitions in order to give free space for Linux. This is done automatically. You no longer have to use a separate utility to do this. Makes it extremely easy.

From my experience, Linux has a few quirks in it. The biggest inconvenience I think it has is it does not have 'restricted' codecs installed and configured out of the box (well, Ubuntu anyways.) The problem is that the codecs used to play MP3s, most popular audio files, movie files and DVD movies are not open source. The goal of Ubuntu is to have a complete open source operating system. You can get these restricted codecs and use them through software on Linux, but I think most average computer users will not have the patience to set this up.

It has been a while since I set up Linux on my wife's laptop, but I remember having problems connecting to my secured wireless router. I am using WPA with the router's broadcast turned off. I think I had to turn the broadcast on, get it connected, then turn it off again. On my computer, I have a printer installed that is shared so that the laptop can use it as well. Although it is extremely easy to install a printer or share one through Linux (Linux to Linux,) you have to turn off 'bidirectional support' in Windows if you want to share a printer for non-Windows platforms.

Finally, I have an older ATI video card in my computer. ATI does not have drivers for the version of Ubuntu we are using. There is an open-sourced driver that will work with my video card. However, my video card has an s-video which I connect my TV. This does not seem to work with the open-sourced video driver. *NOTE TO MYSELF: maybe it is time to get a new TV and video card, anyways .

Other than that, all the drivers I needed came pre-installed with Ubuntu for both my computer and my wife's laptop. This includes the printer, as well as video, sound and network cards. One thing that I believe really sticks out is the amount of free software that comes with it. There is an 'Ubuntu Software Manager' that acts like 'add/remove' programs in Windows. However, it lists thousands of programs that you can automatically download and install. Linux is known for it's stability. People have bragged that they can keep their servers and computers running years at a time without ever having to reboot. Unlike Windows, Linux (and every other operating system) does not have a registry. So, you can run updates, the updated services restart, then you can continue without having to do a full fledged reboot. I think the only time you need to reboot is if you have updated the kernel.

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Posted in Software Post Date 12/25/2016


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