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2002 Jul 17 18:08

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Re: [vox] [zmcarrico@ucdavis.edu: shoud i get linux?]
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Re: [vox] [zmcarrico@ucdavis.edu: shoud i get linux?]



On Wed, 17 Jul 2002, Peter Jay Salzman wrote:

> please cc your replies to zac, since he's not on the list (yet).   :)
[...]
> 
> ----- Forwarded message from zmcarrico@ucdavis.edu -----

> I'm starting at ucd this fall and I need to get a computer.  I've
> never used linux before but I like the idea of a cheap operating
> system with open source coding.  

Cool. :)

> Do you recommend I get a labtop with windows and partition the drives
> so I can use linux or should I just get linux?

If you have a need to use Windows, then this is probably what you will do
anyway.  But it isn't really a very good idea for a couple of reasons:

a) You are continuing to support the monopolistic behavior of Microsoft.
Some people feel this is unavoidable ... finding a computer-oriented job
that doesn't require familiarity with Windows can be challenging, to say
the least.  However, any use of Windows is a compromise with their "we own
this software and we will control your use of it" attitude.  Keep that in
mind every time you accept their EULA, because every time you actually
_read_ that EULA carefully you are likely to find yourself more worried
about what you are agreeing to.

b) Switching between dual-boot operating systems is time-consuming enough
that you probably won't be doing it very often.  This usage pattern will
tend to limit the usefulness of "alternate" operating systems.  Whether
Windows is "alternate" or Linux is "alternate", your familiarity with the
"alternate" will not develop. so the disk space for the "alternate" OS
will be poorly used.

There are some advantages to dual boot:

a) Windows often has better driver support in very new hardware, because
of the monopoly.  Linux programmers have to use their spare time to play
catch-up with programming efforts expended by the hardware manufacturers
for Windows, and the manufacturers aren't always forthcoming with details
of how to do this.  (Note that use of very new drivers in Linux is one of
the few ways to achieve unstable operation of Linux, so you might want to
avoid the most recent hardware for your first Linux install.)

b) If you are already familiar with Windows, it is going to take some time
to reach a similar familiarity with Linux, and you may not be able to
afford to spend all of that time at the outset.  Having a dual boot allows
you to "ease" yourself into Linux if you don't have two computers.

There are alternatives to dual boot:

a) Wine is free software that allows you to run certain Windows software
in Linux environment. If you have a need to use specific software, you may
not need Windows if you use Winex.  It is reportedly difficult to install,
though. From a simplicity-of-installation point of view, Transgaming has
made improvements to the installation process and gaming support that you
have to pay a minimum of $15 for, but that choice is quite popular for
supporting games.

b) VMWare is a relatively expensive commercial application that allows you
to create one or more "virtual" computers, into which you can install the
operating system of your choice.  The "virtual hardware" is a standard set
of hardware, effectively unrelated to the actual hardware on your
computer.  This approach allows you to get in and out of the virtual
machine as easily as switching windows, and allows you to obtain most of
the advantages of the "guest" operating system without the inefficiency of
rebooting.  It is possible to run Linux in a virtual machine under
Windows, but it can be disappointing to realize that Windows' crashes kill
your Linux work, as compared to the stability of Linux as a host OS.

> If just linux do they sell labtops with linux pre-installed or labtops
> without either windows or linux installed?

There are at least a couple of companies that preinstall Linux, but by far
the majority preinstall Windows.  Laptops with no OS are virtually
nonexistent.  Check out a current copy of Linux Journal or Linux Magazine
for advertisements.

> What version is best because the only one I've heard of is Red Hat?  

Each seems to have its own advantages.  Personally, I have had little luck
with Red Hat, even though it is so widespread.  Mandrake and SuSE seem to
have nice graphical installs.  Debian has an excellent upgrade mechanism
that makes it very easy to keep up with bugfixes.  Mandrake is trying to
emulate the Debian upgrade system, but I haven't used Mandrake myself.

> Rad site, i think I'll join lugod if I ever learn how to use linux.  

Learning Linux is a long-term project, so don't put off joining too long.
Don't forget that learning Windows is a long-term project also... but is
more like learning how to get government handouts rather than learning how
to work.  Both approaches may keep you fed, and both may require that you
adapt to changing conditions, but work is likely to give you more control
of your life.

> Thanks for any intel you can give.

Actually, we don't give Intel or AMD... just advice. ;)

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