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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Spice up Windows - replace it! [with Linux]; part 4

In my few previous posts I've stated that I'd like to help people to spice their system and move from Windows to Linux. But we all know that it cannot be done in an instant. I started to explain the process in last posts. I hope that to this point you got used to those applications I've suggested before. If not, just have another week or two using them, until you're comfortable enough with them.

This time I will explain the 4th step: Spicing up Windows!

This would include the following:

  • Backing up all you useful data (such as movies, music, family photos and those other photos).
  • Choosing Linux distribution.
  • Installing Linux distribution.
  • Back to work.

NOTE: this step will be much easier if some member of your family (or a friend) who actually familiar with computers will be around helping. He or she can save a great deal of time, effort and negative emotions by helping to do all this.

Here we go:

1. In first step, you should definitely back up your stuff. Stuff includes documents, music, video, photos and all sorts of other things we always forget about (such as contacts, bookmarks and other settings which just the way we work - not the real information). I can't say where is this stuff of yours on your computer (except maybe Firefox bookmarks), but computer-literate people can always locate it pretty fast for ya. That's where that nephew of yours becomes handy and should repay for all those candy you've invested in him. You do get candies, toy cars and soldiers for him, right?

2. Choosing the distribution. Oh boy, this is so interesting step. By browsing multitudes of sites, you can find that there are several hundreds(!) distributions in the existence, while one or two more are created each day. So how should you choose? Well, the fact is (and I'm sure many disagree), it doesn't matter! There are only 2 major differences between them all:

  • They use different package manager (package is like installation file for a program)
  • They have different set of chosen defaults for applications, settings and environments.

So, anyway, how should you choose? I suggest the following:

  1. Choose the one that can easily be installed.
  2. Use it for a while
  3. Either stay with it if it fulfills your need, or try another.

I'm going to recommend using one of the following for beginners:

As I've never used anything remotely as much as I have used Gentoo Linux (not recommended for beginners, but it is the one I use on my systems), I won't suggest anything else. I hope that commenters will suggest other distributions and I will update the post :-)

Another suggestion, is to use Wubi project, which intends to make the installation of Ubuntu Linux much easier for Windows users. (this one thanks to an anonymous commenter on my blog).

3. After (or during) installing Linux, make sure that all the applications I suggested before are installed. Just to make it quick reminder, here's the list:

  • Firefox
  • Thunderbird
  • Pidgin
  • Xchat
  • eMule
  • Azureus
  • Skype
  • Gizmo Project
  • VLC Player
  • Picasa
  • Jajuk
  • Songbird
  • Open Office
  • AbiWord
  • GnuCash
  • Grisibi

So now, what you're left to do is transfer you stuff to a new shiny Linux computer and get back to work. Using the same application will (supposedly) have no effect whatsoever on your productivity or entertainment.

I hope that these instructions cover the basics. If it doesn't, let me know and I will help you find information you need.

Next time I will explain when will you feel the change and what can be done with it.

Have fun!

Feedback is greatly appreciated.


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Daniel Robbins said...

Hey Alex - I enjoy reading your blog.

For desktop Linux, take a look at Sabayon Linux. It's a full desktop Linux based on Gentoo (with Beryl and other goodies,) but it comes pre-configured with lots of applications and tools. And it has a very good installer.


Alex said...

Hi Daniel

First, its a real honor you like my blog.

Second, yes, I know about Sabayon. Lxnay (Lead developer) is our fellow user representative, but he got busy with Sabayon so we couldn't get him free for userrep stuff. Not that we did much of anything though....:-)

Now, I know what people are saying about it. I've never tried it myself (as I'm Gentoo-er since ~2002-2003, so I'm more of a hardcore Gentoo user). He told me though, he made a version for folk like me.

On the other hand, I hope I made my point clear enough with moving to Linux by using the same applications on both systems. I just wanted to give couple of distributions that will require minimal effort to try them.

Now, while I know Sabayon is much easier to install than Classical Gentoo, it is still Gentoo after all. I didn't want a newbie to start with such a distro, because my target audience was not a computer-oriented people, but just users who use their computer for writing emails. And I believe such users don't give a damn about which operating system they use. I'm positive they don't even know what operating system is.

So I will suggest Sabayon in part 5 or 6, where I will talk about other great things people can do after they already in Linux.

Thank you very much for your warm words.

Thanks for Gentoo, I guess? ;-)

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